Posts Tagged ‘school’

Happy Graduation to you!

Happy Graduation to you!

A row of backpacks lines one wall, neatly hanging on their designated hooks. Shoes are tucked into their allotted slots; name tags tell everyone where their things belong.

Tiny chairs are arranged in rows. Streamers crisscross the ceiling, balloons hang from every available space. A small table holds homemade cupcakes, apple and orange slices and plastic cups filled with juice.

We file into the room quietly, not really sure what to expect. I turn my head and there you are, my baby, standing shoulder to shoulder with your classmates, a blue paper hat propped crookedly on your head. You see me and smile, a proud grin stretching across your entire face.

It is graduation day.

There are tears. The teacher gets choked up less than two sentences into her opening remarks and I feel my own tears join her. I am not one to allow anyone to cry alone.

There is a little slide show, diplomas and gifts are presented and 30 adults do the delicate dance of moving in to take pictures and then back out of the way for the next child. My father-in-law takes his position as the family photographer so I don’t have to bother. I know he will take care of the pictures. There will be perfect shots to send to relatives, post for friends, print for the photo albums. I will thank him later for that, for taking care of that so I don’t have to.  For allowing me to just sit and watch.

Watch you wait anxiously for your turn to be called, the smile on your face when it finally is. Watch you carefully walk across the classroom and take your diploma, laughing as your teacher shakes your hand and turn to smile, pose for all of the pictures that will allow us to remember the day.

Not that I can imagine ever forgetting this day; these images stamped on my mind.

After my in-laws and my husband leave, I stay, mingling a little with the other parents, nibbling on a cupcake and sipping my juice.

My son pulls me by the hand around the classroom, “Mama, look at our caterpillar, he’s in a cocoon now!”

“Look, this is my cubby and these are my shoes”

“Look, this is a picture of my friend Kevin and the volcano we built. It was my favourite thing this year!”

Look, look, look.

I know Buddy, I’m looking at it all. And the whole time I’m looking at you and trying to remember you, in this moment, forever.

Because everyone else in the room looks at you and sees you, as you are now.  But I look at you and see six years of memories all rolled up in your little body.  I see months of late nights and painfully early mornings, scraped knees and bruised feelings, bedtime stories and morning kisses.  I see a terrifying trip to the emergency room, a hundred rocks thrown into the lake, a dozen early mornings at the ice rink, your face lit up in excitement when it’s finally time to step on the ice.  I see melted popsicle dripping off your chin, sand in your shoes, bubbles in the bathtub and rubbing your head as you fall asleep, your eye lashes fanning out on your impossibly soft cheeks.

I see it all.

And now I see you here, with a paper hat on your head, cupcake crumbs on your chin and one shoelace untied on your “fancy” shoes that you asked to wear especially for today.  You seem so incredibly grown up and yet so impossibly young, all in the same moment.  I can hardly breath, it’s all so much to take in.

Fancy shoes.

Fancy shoes.

But I steady myself.

This day is about beginnings, not endings.  It’s about the future, and although it inevitably makes me think of the past, I force myself not to get stuck there, as I so often do.  Instead I will focus on all that you’ve accomplished and yes, perhaps even all that we have accomplished, together, you and I.

It is the end of a chapter, but there’s still so much of the book yet to be written.

I can’t wait to read it.

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My kids finished school today. My hubby (a teacher) finishes school tomorrow. Needless to say, there is a teeny little bit of excitement at my house.

I, of course, still have to get up and go to work through the summer, which fills me with equal parts bitterness and relief. I stayed home with the kids for two years, let’s just say I’m familiar with the reality of it!

And although it may not be my ‘last day’, I always do feel a sense of excitement as we stand here on the edge of summer. I look forward to a loosening of the schedule that grips us so tightly during the school year; a break from evenings spent doing homework at the dining room table; no packing lunches and backpacks; no endless searching for the missing library book or permission slip. Time to sit, time to stop planning and start doing, time to get bored.

There’s just something about summer.

Sitting on the back step eating cherries and seeing who can spit the pits the farthest. Nightly trips to the park because it stays light so late and there’s no firm bedtime looming. A glass of wine on the deck, gently rubbing the condensation off the side of the glass with my thumb and breathing, really breathing, in a way that seems impossible in the middle of winter.

Spontaneous barbecues with friends. Fresh corn on the cob for dinner and just-picked berries for dessert. Undressing the kids before bed and finding pockets filled with sand and rocks, souvenirs of a day well-played.

Eating peaches and watermelon with the juices running down my chin. Sun-kissed cheeks, wind-swept hair and scraped knees – the natural beauty that comes only in summer.

There’s no predicting what this summer will bring but I’m excited to find out. Like a kid standing at the edge of a dock getting ready to jump, I’m going to close my eyes and take the plunge.

Here’s to all the wonderful summer days to come.

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the fruit tray

I had been doing so well.  I made it through a visit with Santa without blowing my stack waiting in line.  I managed to make multiple trips to the toy store at peak hours without coming to blows with a cashier or wrestling with another parent over the last Lalaloopsy doll in the store.  I cut myself some slack and decided there wouldn’t be Christmas cards this year.  Things were going pretty well considering we’re now only 4 days until the big day.  I was even thinking that a good-old pat on the back could be in order.

And then came the fruit tray.

My daughter announced to me at 8pm tonight that she needs a fruit tray for her party at school on Friday.  The rational, reasonable part of my brain knows that it’s not a big deal.  I mean really, if I don’t have time to make something I can just buy a pre-made one at the store tomorrow and be done with it.  But, the irrational, Christmas-crazed side of my brain decided for some reason that this was the one thing that was going to push me over the edge.  I lost it.  I can fully admit that this was not one of my better moments as a mom and now, 15 minutes later, I feel really horrible.

I wish I was the kind of person who could go with the flow on this type of thing but, after living with myself for 34 years, I know that it’s not me.  I’m the freak-out kind rather than the roll-with-it kind.

I feel really bad about making my daughter feel bad.  All she wants is a fruit tray to take to her school and it’s not her job to worry about the 10,000 other things I have to do over the next 2 days.  To push the dagger further into my heart, I know that if I did the same thing to my mom when I was little (which I’m sure I did…more than once probably), she wouldn’t have freaked out.  She would have smiled, given me a kiss and when it came time to leave for school on the appointed day, she would hand me a beautiful fruit tray, each piece of fruit cut by her own hand, even if she had to stay up until midnight doing it.

And with that I feel 10 times worse.

I will go to the store tomorrow and get my daughter a fruit tray.  She will take it to school with her on Friday and for her, that will probably be the end of it.  Years from now she probably won’t remember any of this – or at least I hope she doesn’t remember any of this.  However, as all of you mom’s out there know, from this point on, every time I hear the words ‘fruit tray’ I will remember this.  I will remember the guilt and the disappointment in myself as a mother, the time spent wishing I was a different kind of mom.

I’m probably going to cry about it a little bit.  Then I’ll take a deep breath and tell myself that it’s okay, that beating myself up about it won’t make things any better.  I’ll probably only half believe it.

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Today was “observation day” in my son’s kindergarten class so I got to spend an hour this morning sitting in a tiny chair watching my little boy in his classroom.  After the hour was over and I kissed him goodbye while he ate the apple from his snack bag, one overwhelming thought hit me – I want to go back to kindergarten.

I want to spend my days in a little room where the walls are covered with amazing artwork.

I want to spend my days in a place where they force you to go outside twice a day.

I want to spend my days in a place where there is an actual allotted time for “read to self” where you sit on the carpet for the express purpose of reading quietly, for fun.

I want to spend my days in a place where one designated learning activity involves playing with a tub filled with warm water and soap bubbles.

I want to spend my days in a place where even when you get the answer wrong, you get a smile and a kind word just for trying.

I want to spend my days in a place where you get a hug when you cry.

Do you suppose if I asked nicely they’d let me register?  I wouldn’t even complain about the tiny chairs and the really low sink in the washroom.

Please?  Pretty please?


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