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How much should you spend on your child’s graduation party?


Last week if you noticed on social media there was an avalanche of kindergarten graduations. Every other academy in town was holding a pompous graduation where a bunch of over excited pre-schoolers was moving from Pre Unit to Class One.

In their typical show-off fashion, the equally ecstatic parents took to social media to display to all and sundry how their kiddos were marking a milestone in style.

I do not know why, but from the public displays, it seems kindergarten graduations are attracting more pomp, colour and excitement than the rightfully deserving university graduations.

Owners of private schools have discovered how excited middle-class parents are over the moon about these events and they can do anything to create a hullaballoo of this event.

So every end year, school owners know parents are yearning to spend every available coin to make their children’s graduation as colourful as possible.

They are milking the situation dry. I recall when Tasha graduated a few years ago to Class One and the demands the school was making for the day to be a success, were ridiculous.  We were required to pay a certain inflated figure to hire a gown, buy an array of clothes for the various performances and cash for a customized clock and a certificate.

Much as the demands were many, being the practical parents, my husband and I kept our expenses minimal by keeping the event simple.

But last week, I was invited to a friend’s Pre Unit child graduation and I was flabbergasted at the amount of cash that was spent to celebrate the graduation of Baby Briana to Class one.

My middle-class friend did not spare a coin as she celebrated her daughter’s milestone. Everything was so meticulously planned and well executed, what I did for Tasha when she graduated felt like a sham.  First, there were the posh cards that were sent inviting guests to this auspicious event, there was also a classic venue, dress code and sumptuous food in plenty. To crown it all was a beautiful customised cake.

That was not all, there were speeches and a guest of honor (to say heaven knows what). The star of the moment, our little grandaunt, had a moment of fame when she read to us her ‘Lupita like’ speech.

Looking at pomp and glam that coloured this event, there was no doubt my friend and her husband had spent a fortune to mark this little day.

As a sober, practical mother, I felt that money would have gone to better use. But the tragic thing is that it is not just my friends who are willing and ready to splash so much cash for such events, there is a wave of middle class parents who for them overspending is the norm.

I have no right to raise my concern given that it’s their money, but the flip side of this is that schools are seeing this hunger and thirst on the part of middle-class parents to overspend, and in turn they are cashing in on this. It’s totally unfair on practical parents like me.

The writer is a married working mother of a toddler boy and a pre-school girl. She shares her experience of juggling between career, family and social life.



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