They grow up so fast — and so smarty-pants smart

No one likes a smarty pants — especially those of us with plain old, average trousers, you know what I mean?

Well, except, of course, when the smarty pants in question belong to your son, and you’re watching him walk across the stage in them, as he is inducted into the National Honor Society while you blubber in the front row of the audience trying hard not to jiggle the camera and ruin the photo capturing the big moment.

Yeah, that moment your baby, so grown up and handsome in his dress shirt and tie, accepts his certificate from the National Honor Society saluting academic achievers. They’ve met the scholastic and community service requirements for nomination and were approved for membership by their respective teachers and principals.

Didn’t he just have his eighth grade “clap-out” for the last day of junior high, like, two months ago? Ugh. Me and Father Time about to go a few rounds, yo. Slow down, already, old man!

But instead of completely freaking out at the thought that in one year we will be less than a month away from high school graduation — sorry, I can barely keep the chunks from welling up in my throat as I type that — I hit rewind instead of fast forward.

“You know, I was in the National Honor Society,” I had said earlier in the day to a sufficiently unimpressed Kyle.

“Wow, I didn’t know the little red schoolhouse subscribed to the NHS?” quipped my 17-year-old. Told you he was a smarty pants. Hmpf.

Fine, I’m old. I was STILL part of NHS back in the day. But somehow, I don’t remember looking quite so glamorous when I was the one up onstage. In fact, I’m pretty sure I had on a dress I borrowed from my girlfriend Lizabeth. She always had the coolest clothes.

Either way, after taking in all the grandeur displayed by the remarkable student leaders at Kyle’s school’s ceremony, I couldn’t help but conduct another of my famous PK side-by-side comparison of the NHS kids of today versus those of us who were members in, um, yesteryear.

TODAY: Stunningly clad and coiffed girls in designer duds and stiletto heels with perfect manicures and the balance of the “Final Five” women’s Olympic gymnastics team. Runway model looks, poise and stage presence.

YESTERYEAR: A borrowed dress and shoes just a hair too big that nearly caused me to go sliding straight into the band pit. Luckily, I stopped just short of taking a face plant into the cymbal stand but not before stumbling awkwardly in front of the entire student body and the parents of all the juniors and seniors, who laughed hysterically up on the stage with me.

TODAY: Brilliant young men and women (some of whom were clearly professionally coached in speech and voice) waxing both practical and philosophical about social injustice, spirit of self-conviction and the true measure of success in life. They delivered poignant, thoughtful, relevant messages flawlessly.

YESTERYEAR: Nervous kids pitting out profusely and trying hard not to set the stage ablaze as they light the candles representing the tenets of scholarship, service, leadership and character — two of which spontaneously blew out before the ceremony ended. We read from index card notes, which we accidentally dropped and ultimately read out of order.

TODAY: Future physicians, scientists, entrepreneurs and heads of state with off-the-chart high GPAs and thousands of extra service hours. These young adults work part-time jobs to pay for the mentoring sessions that will ensure their perfect or near-perfect scores on the ACT and SAT college placement tests. They have taken advanced classes all four years of high school, have already accumulated college credits and some of them are currently this close to patenting the synthetic material which will simultaneously block harmful UV rays and patch holes in the ozone layer.

YESTERYEAR: Typical teens who stayed out late playing Pac-Man at the arcade the night before the induction ceremony, took the easiest load senior year to cushion their GPAs, never studied for the ACT and only took it once (figuring low 20s was a pretty good score) and aspired to be … hmm … um, well, something cool after college. One boy, who was an officer in the NHS my senior year, actually wrote in his yearbook under Desired Occupation: “To marry a rich girl.” I’m not joking.

What a comfort, seeing such extraordinary young people grabbing the reins to the future. Kind of reminds me of the horse-and-buggy ride I took to my own NHS induction back at the little red schoolhouse. #rude

Seriously, though; well done, Kyle and friends.

Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist who is wicked proud of her kid, even if he thinks she went to school with Laura Ingalls Wilder. Contact her via www.patriciakimerer.com.

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