Menopausal mom to 2 young adult sons (one with ASD, ADHD, tic/seizure disorders and the other with attitude).

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Commencement Ceremonies

As promised here is part 2 of “School’s Out…FOREVER”. The Commencement Ceremonies took place at a downtown theatre. The kids were supposed to be there by 6pm with the ceremonies starting at 7pm and hopefully ending by 10pm. That is a LOT of waiting, sitting, waiting, listening and more waiting especially in Riley World. 

It was a given that Riley would not be able to sit through the 3+ hours so we had decided right after my bout with amnesia that he would arrive part way through the ceremonies, slide into his seat and wait for the “T” surnames to be called. We were given the schedule of events and approximate times the week prior. The Class of 2013 had 287 students.  All we had to do was calculate the approximate time that Riley would walk across the stage. Easy peasy right??? 

Not easily discouraged and having learnt my lesson (yet again) about the importance of preparing Riley, “we” (together with our Fairy Godmother (FG) and R’s SEA-Special Education Assistant) brainstormed and came up with a plan.

1)      Riley had never been to this particular theatre. Would it be possible to go for a tour beforehand? Next best thing was an online virtual tour of the theatre.

2)      Riley loves lists! Writing, reading and crossing off items on lists. We had the names of all the students now all I had to do was make up a list so Riley could follow along and cross off the students as they walked across the stage thereby giving him something to do and keeping his hands busy.

·         I printed the names off on 3x5 recipe cards so they would be small yet easy to handle and kept them together with a ring.

·         I highlighted (in yellow) the names of the students sitting in the row ahead of Riley as a pre-warning.

·         I highlighted (in green) the names of the students in Riley’s row so he would know when it was time for him to line-up in the aisle before going on stage.

3)      Riley World LOVES visual schedules. This time I did not forget.

4)      Riley’s SEA had his iTouch and headphones on standby.

All brilliant ideas right?  Once again thank you FG!!  We were prepared this time. Surely the stress would be kept to a minimum. Surely.   

G and I along with Riley’s "ladies" (his current and past high school SEA’s (3 of them), his Fairy Godmother and his current community worker) arrived for the start of the ceremonies. They all wanted to be there for this momentous occasion.  :)  J2 was in charge of bringing Riley to the theatre later. J2 and I were in contact via text throughout the ceremonies. This time we were prepared.

There were 5 columns of names in the program. Riley was in the last column about 2/3 of the way down. We timed how long the first column took in order to get a rough idea when the last column would start. The texting began:

Things started to move along a little quicker than we had anticipated. Eeep. J2 and Riley should have been able to make it downtown in 15-20 minutes. J2 was going to text when they had parked. I was starting to get nervous.

"Haha"???  To be more precise..."You relax! Haha"!!!  TOO LATE!  I was now IN panic mode.

2 minutes passed. 120 looooong seconds. Time to give J2 a little encouragement. For the first time ever I was glad that tone could not be read into my text message.

That's when I lost it!

You knowledge of the downtown core (particularly street names) is not the best. Once the others assured me they were very close I regrouped. For about 2 minutes. That's when I lost it...again!

That was the end of our conversation. J2 was no longer responding. After another 2 or 3 angst-filled minutes J2 found us. Shortly afterwards Riley appeared. He was all smiles at seeing all his "ladies". He was placed in his proper spot in line. He never did make it to his seat beforehand.

Then it was time for Riley to make his way across the stage.

This was his introduction:
"In his first years at Handsworth Riley was involved in the CIBC Run for the Cure, cross-country running and setting up a Snack Shack.  Outside of school Riley enjoys playing Challengers Baseball and Special Olympics 5-pin bowling, golf and swimming. He would like to thank all the students, teachers and "the ladies" for all their support over the past 14 years. Riley wants to take the summer off but his mom has other ideas."

He walked across the stage like he knew exactly what he was doing. That is until he got to the other side. After a brief moment of "now what the hell am I supposed to do?" he was directed backstage to where his current SEA was waiting for him.

Later the principal told G that as he shook Riley's hand R said to him "Nice to meet you." Always the polite young man. Who cares if this scenario did not exactly fit the greeting.  ;)

Tomorrow the last monumental event of the past month...Riley's 19th birthday!

Until tomorrow...


  1. oh my gawd. You do know we share the same DNA hahahaha!!!! The texting between you and J2.. that's so me and the hubs hahahaaa!!!! Oh the stress!!! Glad he made it on time. He did so great!!! You on the other hand.. you did absolutely maaaahhhhvelous!

    1. Yea....I've always wanted a twin (although a LOT younger) sister!!!

      It would've been pretty embarrassing if we had to ask them to stop and wait. Haahaa!

  2. I love the expression on his face when he walks across.

    Wish I could have seen the expression on your face when he told you to relax. :)

    1. EXACTLY!!! J2's lucky there were "witnesses" around. ;)

  3. Diane that's so precious! Everything from the family's co-ordination and text messages to Riley's jaunty strut across the stage. This is LOVE! What a great family you are! Congrats Tuckers!

  4. I just LOVED this!!

    The tension of getting him there on time? lol! And, my, I teared and wanted to applaud watching him walk with purpose across that state!! Congratulations Mama. You closed one more chapter. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    1. Apparently I was the only one stressing! Haahaa!

      Thanks Amy! Really glad we reconnected on FB. :D