Our youngest has his “moving up” ceremony this week and our family’s elementary school years will officially end. They started 15 years ago when Danielle joined her reception class at Hall School Wimbledon in the UK. I remember standing on the stairs with all of the other parents wondering if my four-year old would be able to handle the rigors of full-day school. The friends I made that year are still dear and close. It didn’t matter whether we were English, American, or even Japanese. Many families in that year were sending the eldest or only to school and our shared experience bound us together. I did not think that a last week of school could be any sadder than the one I experienced at when we left the UK. I was wrong.
Our nine years at Increase Miller have been wonderful. Some things have changed but the teachers’ commitment to the children has never wavered. Each of our children was treated uniquely and gained what she or he needed to flourish. Danielle was only there for one year but her homeroom teacher made her feel as if she was the most special child in the room. Our second daughter was there for three years and it is not an exaggeration to say that her fifth grade teacher changed her life and showed her that the world was her theater no matter what obstacles were set in her way. Our older son learned that kindness and academics come before sports. Being a jock certainly has an upside on the social scene, but he continues to remember that there is much more to be gained in school.
Our youngest is in a category all his own. He is 11 years old, almost 5’3” with 44” shoulders and a body type that best resembles a brick wall. His personality (and his heart) is as big as his frame. He tried out for the fifth grade musical, “Jungle Book,” and he landed the part of Baloo the bear. I just assumed he got the part because of his size. He participated in every costume design workshop, set design workshop and of course, rehearsals. Along the way he said very little about his part in the play and never asked for help in learning his lines and songs. I grew increasingly nervous, as he is normally shy and avoids drawing attention to himself at all costs. He appeared on stage and the transformation was unbelievable. He sang, he danced and he didn’t miss a cue. Several teachers around me had misty eyes that matched mine. Six years of nurturing by his teachers led to our son growing wings and soaring.
The tears are running down my face as I finish this blog. The memories don’t belong to the children alone. Along the way the teachers, administrators, support staff and custodians have become friends. We shared news of graduations, weddings, babies and losses.
As a child leaves his elementary years behind he brings his memories forward and leaps to the next adventures. I will join our youngest soon, but for now, I look behind me and mourn the passing of these years. It is certain that I will miss them most of all.