This was originally posted on the now defunct Chicago Moms Blog.
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.