Mothers, smile and be proud as your children

(beloved children, your own flesh and blood)

graduate today. They will tie a hitai-ate, sign of loyalty to their village

(pledge to kill on the whims of their leaders, target for any enemy),

upon their foreheads. They have excelled in their classes, far above any other

(they can think of more ways to kill and maim and orphan than anyone else)

and someday they will stand at the top of the village's protectors

(slay others to keep their own safe, kill more efficiently than those whom they kill, keep civilians in life by sending others into death).

These are your children; look at them

(see their empty, haunted eyes and their stone hearts and their steady hands secretly shaking as they wake, screaming, in the night).

Perhaps one of them will become Hokage, face carved into stone forever

(stand at the top and decide which of many pawns will die first and which will live until they are no longer useful; haunted and tormented by ghosts of mistakes)

and command the respect of all, ninja and civilians alike

(do not mention fear, because all will fear the best killer among them, and the Hokage will be loved only by those who fear less than the others – and they are few and beyond).

Remember those small hands that reached up for you so long ago – they have grown

(and now they will hold weapons and poisons and they will be covered in blood and they will take lives);

tiny, loving eyes have seen more of life

(no more naïve innocence; these hardening eyes of stone will weep no longer, watching enemies and comrades die together – this is the risk we take);

those sensitive ears that first listened to your voice have become even keener

(able to hear that inaudible last rasp of breath from a dying corpse).

Fathers, recall teaching your children how to use your tools

(do you regret it now? because those skills have been honed, and may someday be turned against you, as well – you who are fighters as well know what your children are now);

recall those sweet smiles of your children

(you will never see them again);

recall the joy of a new family, whole and alive, when your children were born

(but now the children have been robbed of their childhoods and their lives are dreary and their laughs will never genuine again).

Today your children are adults, capable of making their own decisions

(never mind that they are only twelve; today they are old enough to know when to kill and when to die).

Do not hold them back; today they are no longer only your children. Today, they are Konoha's protectors as well.

(They do not belong to you anymore; weep for them now and say your farewells, for they may never return to you – it is impossible for them to come back unscathed.)

Today is the last day you will be the parents of the sweet, loving children you know in anything but name. They are strong warriors now, and they will not come running to you with their troubles anymore

(lest they smear you with blood and tears and shame. What you have created have become monsters).

Smile, and see your children, Konoha's guards.

(They are tools and pawns and prizes and weapons and prisoners, to be manipulated by the will of Fire. Your children have died today, and in their place – )

Today, they have become shinobi.

(They are shinobi, now.)

Parents, be proud.


- - -

So, this is the type of heartfelt speech that instructors always give during graduations (and they're really boring to listen to, really). This is my interpretation of what's going on between the lines, because, really, shinobi parents do have a reason to cry. It's kind of morbid. Heh.