Grad Dad

Ladies and gentlemen, our now-18-year-old daughter has graduated from high school. The past few weeks have been significant for us as our baby celebrated her 18th birthday, graduated as an honors student and received her permanent driver’s license. It’s been a whirlwind experience as I can clearly remember the day she was born.

In fact, I started writing this column in January of the year she was born, 1997. So if you’ve been reading What’s Next since then, you’ve literally watched her grow up within the pages of MidWeek.

But the graduation experience today is totally different from when I graduated from Leilehua back in 1976. And believe it or not, my wife was in the same graduating class from the same school. Yes, we’re both Mules. We didn’t know each other as we had a large class that included kids from Schofield, Wheeler and Whitmore plus Mililani, as they didn’t have a high school back then. I think we had a class of 700.

In comparison, our daughter’s class graduated 65 students. I was trying to remember what my father’s role was in my graduation so I could apply it to myself. All I remember is that he was celebrating big time and making sure at my graduation party that no one had an empty glass in their hand.

In 2015, the dad’s role is as it’s been during the whole time our daughter has been in high school. That role is that I am her servant — or to give you a visual, I am her caddy. That’s because after the graduation ceremony when all the students break out to meet family and friends, my role was to hold stuff.

I started out having to hold her sign so that people could locate her. Then I graduated to holding all the overflow of leis that I draped over both arms like how they do on the statue of King Kamehameha on Kamehameha Day.

Then I ended up holding all these gift bags which leads to the worst task of all – I have to hold my daughter’s and my wife’s purses. That’s so they can take photos with all of our family and friends. Yes, on graduation day I turn into a human coat rack.

But at the end of the night when I hand our daughter her purse back, she gives me a hug and says, “Thank you, Daddy, I love you.”

Then I realize that everything these past 18 years was so worth it.