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Archive for the ‘school’ Category

To be frank, I thought the idea of the “montessori graduation” to be a bit overwrought. Caps and gowns. Pomp and circumstance.

For people who were six years old.

I thought the woman in front of me was a tad overdramatic when she started tearing up before the ceremony started. A teacher darted in with a kleenex. It was all a bit sloppy.

Then the music started. Pomp and circumstance played by the music director, who is also our neighbor. The children walked down the aisle of the little church above the classrooms, dressed in their bright green caps and gowns.

And the tears started to flow! My tears! Cynical me, crying at the pomp and circumstance surrounding the montessori graduation.

What a shock!

Then I saw my girls.

And I was in awe.

They looked so big in their graduation gowns. They looked so beautiful. Their smiles were spectacular.

And thus the tears flowed some more.

“Mooooooooommmmm!” said my son. He was embarrassed by his mother’s tears, as boys usually are by such things. But not surprised at all. He knows me all too well.

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My girls had their very first school concert the other day. They’ve been seeing their brother’s concerts for years now and thus were THRILLED to be standing on stage the gym floor, belting out some tunes.

This year, the theme was kind of like a sock hop. Poodle skirts were worn by those girls whose mothers had lots of time to acquire/make them. My girls wore the other costume – jeans and white shirt.

Sigh.

However, my twinges of guilt over not supplying the poodle skirt vanished with the first note of the concert. I love watching school shows! I love them more than just about any other kind of entertainment. School concerts are filled with top performers and wiggly children and shy people who would rather be anywhere else than singing in public in front of a large audience of parents. (I had fallen in the latter category as a child – my heart goes out to the children who hate to perform!)

Three classes were represented at this show – 2nd graders, 5th graders and the kindergarteners. They placed the kindergartners next to the fifth graders. It was fascinating to see the growth we can expect in the next 5 years. The older girls were so tall and poised and beautiful. The kindergartners were so small and tiny.

In the kindergarten group, one girl in particular was not enjoying the show. She cried; she held her arms out beseeching her mother to rescue her. And well into the first song, the mother obliged, and the little girl was whisked away.

The little girl next to the shy child decided that she really didn’t want to participate either. She didn’t cry; she didn’t wait for her mother to rescue her; she just casually walked off the risers, done with the show.

That left the boy on the end standing alone. And when the kindergarteners all sang “Stand by Me,” and placed their arms around their neighbor, this boy had no neighbor to embrace.

So he stood there, singing passionately, and stretched his arm out, pretending to embrace the neighbors who’d fled.

A hilarious moment in a night full of emotion.

My girls were nervous prior to the show. I could tell. But they rose to the occasion. They sang. They did the dance moves. They embraced their neighbor when it was time to do so.

But in my mind, the night belonged to the little boy who didn’t let the absence of a neighbor inhibit him from performing as directed. He stood; he sang; he embraced the air; he was completely engaged in the show.

And the first school concert for my girls was a concert that was wonderful to watch.

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When I sent my firstborn off to kindergarten several years ago, I was brand new at the whole school thing – and I had two babies in the house.

My son would bring home detailed instructions on what they were doing in kindergarten; one of my babies would cry; I’d drop the instructions and run off, forgetting immediately all information the school wanted me to know.

Thus, in those early weeks, he’d go to school rather ill-prepared – and then come off the bus at the end of the day, crestfallen.

“It was blue day today, mom,” he’d tell me.

Alas, poor child! The green shirt he was wearing was all wrong on the blue day, that special day when all the children in kindergarten were supposed to wear blue (according to the instructions I’d earlier forgotten).

For whatever reason, I remember his early weeks of school as being all wrong – his wardrobe never matched the instructions – because I’d lost them in a swirl of distraction.

Thus, I resolved that when those two distracting babies reached the age of kindergarten, I was never going to fail to put them in the right color!

I didn’t count on the color preferences of my girls to stand in the way.

Who has orange items in their wardrobe? Not my girls – not my pink and purple girly girls.

Who has red? Mine do – but not in an item they wanted to wear today.

The color-coordinated lesson plan has been a headache from the get-go. So enough already with the color stuff. Let’s get them going on the good stuff – like algebra….

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Right this minute, as I type this, all three of my children are in grammar school. My girls, my baby girls, are in kindergarten. My beloved first born, in fourth grade.

I’m once again overwhelmed by a parenting milestone. Emotional, and even, yes, a little teary-eyed.

This time around, I did not sob publicly at the bus stop, as I had done when my son boarded the bus on that first full day of kindergarten. He was completely perplexed that a day that gave him such a thrill caused me such obvious sorrow.

As he boarded that yellow bus, I cried. Yes I cried. I cried, not because my son was leaving me, or that I worried about his ability to do well in kindergarten. I cried because my son was going off onto the bus that would take him to the world where I could no longer protect him. I put him on that bus and with him went all the impossible dreams shared by all parents. We want our children to sail easily through life. No tragedies. No missteps. We want our sons and daughters to be beloved by all, to succeed beyond our wildest dreams.

And so they go to school, and that’s why I cried. When I think of school, I remember being inspired by the rare great teacher but I also remember unending boredom at the hands of people who no longer cared for teaching. I remember the cruelty of children towards other children. I’ve sent my children off into that world and I hope I’ve given them the skills they need to thrive, but I worry. One cannot help but worry.

This year, I held it together on Monday, the open-house day, when the parents got to go to school with their kindergartners.

I held it together when the teacher read a poem about the fears parents had the night before the first day.

I held it together yesterday, when my baby girls got off the big yellow bus by themselves, after their first full day in the classroom.

I held it together – and even enjoyed the family back-to-school barbecue last night.

Today, I’m a mess. I’m a mess because I’ve launched my babies into the world and yes, it’s all good – they’re ready.

But I’m a mess because maybe, just maybe, I’m not ready for my obsolescence.

Nearly ten years ago I became a parent, and was immediately overwhelmed by the constancy of my baby’s need. He ate all the time; he slept hardly ever. Between the two, I was literally blown away by how tethered I felt as the mother of a newborn.

Then the twins came, and I was tethered, yes, but used to it by then. I had learned to fit pieces of me into little slices of naptime and other bits of time like that.

And then my son went to kindergarten and my girls went to preschool.

And today, they’re all in grammar school. All three of them are “big kids” now. And my life as the mother of babies has come to an end forever.

Today, I am sad.

Tomorrow I will celebrate this milestone. But I never realized how much of parenthood was learning to let go….

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