Jon Dawson delivers commencement address

Jon Dawson delivers commencement address

Summer vacation is upon us and with it an opportunity for families to spend some quality time together. My two Tax Deductions are excited to begin what The Wife has assured them had better be a summer of blissful co-existence. 


TD#1 is an almost 14-year-old whose idea of a party is to disappear into a beanbag with a good book or watch "I Love Lucy" while ironing. TD#2 is a naturally caffeinated 8-year-old who loves to paint landscapes, butterflies and aerial depictions the 1944 Siege of Bastogne. In short, Oscar Madison and Felix Unger might as well be twins by comparison.

In an effort to ensure my TDs' transition from student to civilian life is a smooth one, I decided to deliver a commencement address to the two of them. To make the program as authentic as possible I pulled out all the stops by recreating my own graduation from middle school in 1987:

Printed programs for the ceremony - check.

Set up a podium in our living room - check.

Invited uncle of fellow classmate to reenact his portrayal of a demented barn owl by obnoxiously hooting when his nephew walked across the stage - check.

Turned air conditioner off - check.

The speech I delivered to my TDs (and one hooting adult) was a long and winding affair that made The Iliad look like the text of a fortune cookie.  I wanted to print the entire speech here, but according to Neuse News Publisher BJ Murphy "the internet is only so big, so tighten it up."

The following is an excerpt from my commencement address:

Today is a very important step in your development as a fully-formed adults - except for you hooting man. Sadly I think you're about as developed as your going to be. You've been annoying people at graduation ceremonies for years and I assume you'll continue to do so.

But moving on, I want to say that I'm very proud of Tax Deductions 1 and 2. You've made your mother and I very proud. You've studied hard and made good grades. Early on it was tough getting you out of bed in the mornings, but never underestimate the motivational value of a bucket of ice water. 

As you take the next step into summer vacation, remember that a peaceful, harmonious house is the dream of every parent. In the case of your mother and I, it's more than a dream - it's a requirement. Summers gone by have been marred by the two of you squabbling over couch position, ownership of a particular blanket and TD#2's insistence on waking up TD#1 early in the morning. TD#2, it's not nice to wake people up. TD#1, it's not normal to want to sleep until hour 12 of the Today Show. 

In closing, your mother and I want you girls to have a great summer. For years we made a concerted effort to get you to the beach at least three times, but it's become clear that you are both your parents' children and love being home. With that in mind, today we are awarding both of you with a stick retrieved from a nearby oak tree. With these sticks may you draw many pictures in the dirt and take part in many pretend fencing matches. With these sticks may you conduct symphonies of those birds who love to go all Pavarotti outside our window at 5 a.m. Whatever you do with these sticks, do it outside. Get out of our house. We'll call you when supper is ready.

As I walked away from the podium and "Hail To The Chief" faded from the living room stereo, The Wife and I joined our Tax Deductions on the couch to see if my words made any impact. TD#2 looked at her stick and then at her sister's stick.

"Her stick is longer than mine," TD#2 said. "I want to switch."

"What are we having for breakfast tomorrow?", TD#1 asked.

The Wife and I looked at each other, and without saying a word we both grabbed a kid and tickled them to within an inch of their lives. 

To be continued.

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