Miss Manners: Grandparent can’t hear the speeches at grandkids’ graduations

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Grandparent struggles to hear at their grandchildren’s graduations.

I have nine beautiful grandchildren, and beginning this year, I will attend high school graduations for the next several consecutive years. My issue is that I am so hard of hearing that I cannot understand the speakers at these ceremonies.

For me, it is as though the speeches are in a foreign language. I applaud when others applaud, but don't laugh at the humor nor feel touched by a sentimental story. I simply cannot understand what is being said. The children all go to fairly small schools, and the ceremonies are held in the gym or auditorium, where space is very limited. Under these circumstances, would it be better to forgo the graduation ceremony, letting someone who could appreciate it have the seat I am taking up?at much of a disadvantage.

Miss Manners is not intending to be mean. These rituals have meaning, and departing from them too radically robs them of their emotional value. She only wants to make the point that the speeches are not the important part — unless one of your grandchildren is the valedictorian. Rather, the point is the show of family pride in a child’s achievement, the ceremonial recognition of the child’s achievement, and the heralding of a new life stage. Your presence would be an important contribution to all that. It shows the child that you care, and it shows the parents that family bonds survive the growing independence of new generations.And nobody is going to test you on what was said in the speeches. If that were the case, a lot of people with no hearing problems would flunk.


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