It’s the Last Day of School: Have You Caught Your Breath Yet?

Wow. June kicked my ass. Everything was ending, and summer was beginning. I have never filled out so much paperwork. Bus schedules, thank you cards, camp registration and medical forms, Girl Scout surveys, deposit checks for next year’s daycare and after-school enrollment. And the artwork – the artwork! So many petrified paintings and crushed tissue paper sculptures. Something that looked like it might have been a cool aircraft, if it had survived the trip home. I had visions of the teachers clearing their bulletin boards in a flurry, the glitter flying, with firm reminders of “If you don’t pick up your pile, I will be throwing it out…I mean, recycling it.” And truly, there are some keeper projects in there. The rest? Well…

And then there were the rites of passage. “Stepping-up ceremonies.” My son stepped up from his Cupcakes class (2 year olds) to his Bumblebees class (3 year olds). My daughter stepped up from kindergarten to first grade (which will be in the same school).

I was jealous of her laminated diploma.

I was jealous of her laminated diploma.

This ritual puzzles me.  A ceremony to mark making it to the next grade? As they were expected to do? This is not a graduation, that marks the significant advance to a new chapter – be it from one school to the next, or from school to an attempt at a career.  This is not a leap. It’s a step. And somehow, somewhere, this became a big deal. Songs and dances were rehearsed; parents were clamoring for more than their allotted 2 tickets. We had to reconfigure all our kids’ morning routines so that the whole family could be in attendance for events, which started at 8:45am. Oh, and there were still 2 more weeks of school after this ceremony. I couldn’t figure out how to explain that one to my daughter.

While I’m so proud of my kids, and excited to see them so excited, I just didn’t get how this was a cause for blown-out celebration. Wasn’t this only a big deal because we were telling them? Did they actually FEEL it?

Pretty sure the idea to wear the hat backwards was my son's.

Pretty sure the idea to wear the hat backwards was my son’s.

Before you get totally disgusted at my miserly attitude, I will confess – those stepping up ceremonies were like a love bomb to the heart. The tears started coming just seeing the kids start to march out. They were so PROUD! They felt so SIGNIFICANT! And when I think where they started, 10 months ago, it truly is cause to celebrate. They have grown up. And it’s just about killing the parents to witness it.

I don’t have a lot of pictures or any video of these events, and that is kind of deliberate. I really chose to be wholly present. To train my eyes and ears, and not my lens, on my kids. So that they could see me watching, fully engaged, and so that I could actually experience it in that moment. While the whole world is busy capturing events to be enjoyed later, I get so much more satisfaction experiencing it firsthand.

I'll just ask any of those other camera-wielding parents to email me the video.

I’ll just ask any of those other camera-wielding parents to email me the video.

And really, I needed a breather. It’s all been so much to organize and track and sift through and sign. I didn’t want to give myself any more work. I just wanted to sit and watch and get choked up. Because sometimes when I’m so busy with all the stuff, I forget that I’m supposed to enjoy any of it.

We shouldn't feel compelled to try to capture every moment. Especially this one.

We shouldn’t feel compelled to try to capture every moment. Especially this one.

How do YOU keep up with the mad rush before summer break?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “It’s the Last Day of School: Have You Caught Your Breath Yet?

  1. Maryanne C.

    I hear you! Down here May & December are whirlwinds between the trophy ceremonies, chorus concerts, and Honor Roll Breakfasts, but it’s August that kicks my butt. I have three kids in three different schools, and I bring them to school a few days before the official first day to meet teachers, get schedules, and pick out lockers. Then I spend the next week on a scavenger hunt for school supplies and each year has its token elusive item be it a sea foam green clear plastic folder with prongs or a multi-colored notebook with perforated sheets – no spirals allowed! A few weeks later, I go back in the evening to learn about the year’s curriculum, rotate through their schedule, and attend fund raising meetings. I’m worn out just writing about it! Love your posts, keep up the good work!

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