In a few weeks my daughter will be graduating … for the third time. Now, since most of the readers here do not know me or my age, you might assume that the three graduations I speak of would be for high school, college and graduate school.

But no, my daughter is 10 and she is graduating from the fifth grade.

Yes, “graduating.” In fact, from here on out I’m putting graduating and all other forms of the word in quotation marks. Because all I can think of is air quotes every time I hear the words fifth-grade “graduation.”

That’s a Lot of “Graduation”

Her previous “graduations” took place when she completed three years of pre-school and one year of kindergarten. Adding in this next one, which recognizes her and her peers’ transition to middle school, my daughter will have had as many “graduation” ceremonies as there are Star Wars prequels.

Of course with each one of these has come the pageantry; potluck sign up forms, a new dress, handmade “graduation” caps, taking time off of work to attend the ceremony, photo submissions for the end of the year slideshow, congratulatory yearbook notes, memory DVD orders and so much more.

Are we really celebrating what amounts to a blip in her educational career, a simple bridge from one level of education to another? Is this another example of the millennial cliché “everyone gets a trophy?”

I don’t know if this is a geographic thing (I grew up in the Midwest and am raising a child in California). I don’t know if it is a generational thing (my generation and those previous to mine celebrated high school and college finishes and that’s it). I don’t know if I’m just being totally insensitive to the accomplishments of my daughter and the other students.

I just feel like there are so many bigger things to celebrate. Not to mention the high school and college graduations (no quotes needed). There will be first jobs, promotions, engagements, pregnancies, life long goals achieved. All of these are small moments that make up much bigger ones.

“Celebrate the Little Things”

But maybe that is the lesson to be learned, the reasoning behind that quote you see on motivational stickers, “celebrate the little things.”

Indeed the little things are the chapters throughout our lives. It’s the little things, the marked milestones on a journey that encourage us to carry on. If we only waited to celebrate the end, we may never actually see it because we would be so discouraged that the goal to achieve was taking so long to get here.

It’s the reason I make “to do” lists and cross them off as I go along. There something so satisfying when I uncap my pink highlighter and give a nice swipe of the marker on another completed task. Those tiny celebrations throughout the day enable me to press on and finish off that seemingly always long list.

So as my family prepares for this third “graduation,” I promise to look at it in a different light. It’s another one of my daughter’s little, yet important, moments of her life. Moments, that when she thinks back on them collectively, will form the one thing worth celebrating … her entire life story.

While preparing for his ten year old's third formal graduation ceremony, Justin Kanoya wonders if we're taking this graduation thing a bit too far.