June 9, 2008

by Jen Bakken

Have you ever been so tired you could fall asleep while standing up? Have you ever yawned so much that it looked as though you were crying?

This was how I felt Monday after the senior class all-night graduation party.

Though I didn’t chaperone nearly as long as some parents, my shift left me sleepwalking the next day.

Most parents of seniors have a pretty busy schedule around graduation time. I decided to add moving to my already full list of things to do.

I spent two days and near sleepless nights moving and unpacking, then attended the Delano High School 2008 graduation ceremony June 1.

After watching the students in caps and gowns accept their diplomas, pose for pictures, and share hugs with their tearful parents, it was time for more unpacking.

There should have been a few hours for a nap, or even a rest, but I kept going. Almost as if trying to deny the need for sleep or admit defeat, I then went to chaperone the senior all night graduation party.

Finding a second wind, I arrived at Dave and Buster’s in Maple Grove at midnight. If you have never been there, it is like Chuck E. Cheese for adults.

When you walk through the doors, it is difficult to know where to go first. The sights and sounds could send some into sensory overload.

But not the seniors – they were all busy playing games, eating, laughing, and enjoying one more event together.

My job was to help with two activities. One was jousting, where two opponents wore padding with a big Velcro thing on their heads. The object was to knock the other person’s “head” off with a big foam joust.

Needless to say, things were a bit rough and rowdy at times. It was funny to watch, and a couple times I was nearly thrown off my feet while chaperoning.

Young men at 17 and 18 years old rarely need a reason to be physical, and they really went all out when they faced each other.

What I found cute was how the guys would challenge a girl and suddenly, they were able to play nice, be gentle, and were even willing to lose.

The other activity I helped with was an inflatable bungee game. Two students were strapped to a bungee cord in a big blown up track.

They would then see who could run the farthest before they were snapped back into an inflatable wall.

Watching students be thrown backwards, head over heels, was hilarious. They seemed to have just as much fun watching the event as they did participating in it.

Two mothers even gave the bungee game a try. While I watched them have as much fun as the seniors, I decided I, too, wanted to give it a try.

Convincing my son it would be funny to do this together, (Okay, well, I might have begged a little), we strapped on the bungee cords and ran full speed.

The first attempt sent me into a face dive right on the side wall, not even making it halfway down the track, and I didn’t fare much better the second time.

The third run, I feel, was pretty good, and though I didn’t make it as far as my son, I thought I did pretty good, for a mom.

That is, until I was snapped backward so hard that the bungee cord gave me something along the lines of rope burn down my back.

Luckily a fellow parent was kind enough to take pictures of how absolutely ridiculous I looked and my son laughing at me.

Arriving home at 4 a.m., it was difficult to fall asleep, even though I was completely exhausted. The noise of the games was buzzing in my ears, and the bungee cord burn refused to allow me to lay on my back.

A few hours later, I was picking up the babysitter and out delivering newspapers to area newsstands. It was like sleepwalking with a sore back and a mini case of whiplash.

However, if given the opportunity – I would surely do it all over again. It was a fun night, and I know the seniors had a great time.

Congratulations to the Delano High School class of 2008, and best wishes as you embark on the next chapter in your lives.

And, congratulations to all the parents who worked so hard to make the senior all-night graduation party such a memorable event.