Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Elementary School — CMB Post

This was originally posted on the now defunct Chicago Moms Blog.
On Friday, my youngest child completed fifth grade, which means it was our family's last day of elementary school after 12 long, mostly wonderful years.

This child has literally spent his entire life at this school, having been born same the year his twin siblings were in kindergarten. He has attended 12 years of school picnics, talent shows, and band concerts. He has met every teacher, joined every club, and climbed every inch of the school's two playgrounds. He's bored, well-prepared and more than ready to move on to the challenges of middle school.

But what about me?

I really don't think I'm ready to leave elementary school behind. No more crayons, no more playground bonding, no more room parenting. No more little kids with cute backpacks and silly winter hats. My house will now be completely taken over by smelly adolescents with attitude — some of them taller than me.

Elementary school has been a sweet time, a relatively leisurely time, a time when I had the opportunity to get to know my children's teachers, as well as their friends and their friends' parents. It's been a time when parental PDAs were not only acceptable, but welcome; when my kids waved goodbye from the bus windows or ran back to me for one more kiss and hug.

But all that's over. From now on, school is about moving up and out and away. It's about making new friends and trying new things. It's about moving from classroom to classroom with many different teachers and influences. I get that. I know the whole goal of parenting is to develop independent human beings.

I also know that the three years of middle school fly by, and that high school goes even faster. I know that their job between now and high school graduation is to pull away until they don't need me any more. Knowing it and accepting it are two different things.

I thought I would be weepier during this particular transition. After all, I sobbed for two days when my twins moved from preschool to elementary school.

Perhaps it's because, as the youngest of six, this particular child has the grace to recognize my angst as well as his own. He has always reached into adulthood with one hand while holding on white knuckled to his childhood with the other. He's wise enough to know that growing up isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be; that the rewards and freedoms come with hard work and consequences. And he indulges me no end, holding my hand (even in front of his friends) and understanding that just because he'll always be my baby, doesn't mean that he still has to be a baby.

So, I was a little melancholy, but dry-eyed at the fifth grade recognition ceremony — until people started asking me if I was going to cry, which sent me over the edge. Good thing my son was there. "It's OK, mom," he reassured me, "you can still read stories to me." Maybe having only big kids won't be so bad after all.

This is an original Chicago Moms Blog post. When Susan isn't sobbing over baby pictures and wishing her kids would stay little forever, she can be found writing at Two Kinds of People and The Animal Store Blog.

1 comment:

Susan Bearman said...

Comments from the original Chicago Moms Blog post:

Amy Nathan said...

Lovely post - I so understand. Good for you for realizing how things change, but can still be quite wonderful!

June 16, 2009 at 06:24 AM

Karen Putz said...

Ah, you wrote the post that was playing in my mind these past couple of days! I said goodbye to elementary school too. I feel like life is spinning even faster now!

June 16, 2009 at 06:28 AM

Liz LaCroix said...

Oh, dear, I'm sure I will not be making those transitions gracefully at all when my girls get to that point. I'm already getting weepy as they grow out of their baby footie pajamas and need the next size (every 3 months.) But what a sweetie you have! I hope my girls will be so sensitive to me!

June 16, 2009 at 07:17 AM

Kristi of Million Dream Mom said...

oh my goodness! My eldest is entering kindergarten in the fall and you've got ME ready to cry, anticipating how fast those elementary years are going to pass me by. :(

June 16, 2009 at 01:47 PM

Spanish Dude said...

As hard as it is to accept that your child is getting older, just wait until they grow up and have kids of their own, it'll make your head spin.

June 16, 2009 at 04:37 PM

Bev Patt said...

Hey Susan,
I'm right with you with my youngest graduating from elementary school - plus my oldest graduating from high school. I've got a post about how writing a book is like raising a child here.

And I did cry when I wrote it! Congrats on finally getting out of elementary school!

June 16, 2009 at 06:09 PM