The following conversation is between me and my daughter Abby, age almost-12. It originally aired on CBC Radio’s “Breakaway” on June 4, 2013. You can hear the original audio version here or click the widget below — highly recommended for maximum cuteness.
R: So, Abby, the Grade 6 Class of 2013. You made it… halfway. In less than three short weeks you’ll be receiving your pretend diploma – or as they say, “grade-uating” – and stepping into the real world… of high school. How do you feel?
A: There’s a mixture of excitement and nostalgia. Excitement because there are three weeks left and they’ve basically stopped teaching us anything new; nostalgia because after this year, we won’t be allowed to sit on teachers’ laps anymore.
R: You can’t sit on your boss’s lap either.
A: Oh really.
R: Trust me. Looking back, what would you say is the legacy of the Grade 6 Class of 2013?
A: I don’t think anyone will ever forget our Christmas pageant of 2012, “Angels We Have Heard Are High,” which challenged conventional belief systems, exposed the hypocrisy of the war on drugs and included a Lady Gaga medley on the xylophone.
R: It was also three hours long.
A: Yes, it was much shorter than most Christmas pageants. We were quite proud of that.
R: What will you miss most?
A: Snack time, obviously.
R: There are some who say a Grade 6 education doesn’t go very far anymore.
A: That’s silly. Our class is going all the way to Tadoussac next week, and that’s really far.
R: Do you feel elementary school has adequately prepared you?
A: Well, certainly we’ve mastered the art of using scissors. That’s a given. And sitting in a circle quietly, we’ve really got that down. Standing in lines, asking to use the bathroom, unquestioning obedience, long division – we know all that. But if I look at our class objectively, I think too often we’ve allowed ourselves to fall back on our cuteness. But you can trade on your adorability only so far.
R: Well, not much past Grade 7 anyway. Unless, you’re a late bloomer like I was, and then they call you “cute” well into high school, but not “cute” as in “He’s soooo cute,” more like, “Awww, he’s so cute!” which isn’t the same thing and eventually you start to resent it and it just builds up and builds up until you start channelling that resentment as sarcasm and cynicism, which just makes you that much more unappealing… Sorry, where were we?
A: You were asking what I thought our biggest challenge was.
R: Oh yes, what do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Grade 6 Class of 2013?
A: That’s a good question.
A: You’re so smart!
R: I know. Anyway, biggest challenge?
A: I… think I would have to say the volatility of the job market. And algebra. And pimples.
R: Do you worry that you’re entering a world where antagonism has replaced discourse to the extent that solving the already seemingly insurmountable problems will be virtually impossible?
A: No, mostly I’d say we’re worried about remembering our locker combination.
R: Would you say these have been the best years of your life?
A: Well, I can’t really remember my first three years of life, so I’d have to say yes!
R: If you could give a message to the Grade 6 Class of 2013, what would it be?
A: I would say, “Class of 2013, follow your dreams, unless they’re scary dreams, so don’t watch gross movies before bedtime. Also: Remember the road not taken, because there’s a creepy dude on that road. And, ummm, don’t wipe your toothpaste spit on the hand towel.”
R: Sound advice. Well, Abby, best of luck to you and the Grade-uating Class of 2013.
A: Thanks. So my bedtime’s 10 o’clock now, right?
R: Don’t kid yourself.