Most of the time, I’ve been pretty firmly on the non-sentimental end of the Mom spectrum. While others cried putting their babies on the kindergarten bus, I waved with a bright smile then went inside and had a virtual margarita. (Not a real one - I’m not much of a drinker - but I like to have mental drinks to celebrate things.) Generally, the older my kids get, the better I like them. I love seeing them move on in life, become more mature, learn new things and leave me behind for new interests they’re excited about. My babies not needing me anymore is a good thing in my book.
So what a surprise to find myself crying at the Forest Hills 6th grade final Parade through the Halls.
This was new one on me – though my first kid started at Forest Hills some thirteen years ago, I don’t remember this event happening before. Sure, my first year there, I went to the outdoor Celebration of Learning, which very soon became known in our house as Baking on a Hill While Not Caring about Box Tops for Education (I told you, we’re not so sentimental here). I noticed that only the other first grade parents were there (suckers) and figured I could skip that one in the future. But as my final kids were preparing to exit Forest Hills, I heard about this 6th grade procession and I thought, hey, I can get away from my desk for that. The younger kids and any parents who could make it would line the hallways and cheer the sixth grade classes as they walked through.
So, I got there on time, said hi to a couple of moms and dads and grabbed a spot along the route. As usual, I didn’t have a camera so I got out my phone, figuring this showed at least some sense of the significance of the occasion. I wouldn’t want the kids to think I didn’t care about their milestone. The intercom system that normally only sends out barely intelligible crackling messages from the principal started to play Pomp & Circumstance.
And then, I blubbered.
It wasn’t about the kids at all – many of whom I knew from years of being in the school. Most of them looked self-conscious or bored, alarmed at my occasional attempts to high-five them. I used to teach 7th grade, and I recognize the signs. They were ready for middle school for sure. Somehow it was about the school itself. Just thinking I wouldn’t have any reason to come here anymore. Gratitude to all the teachers who guided and taught and cared about all my children for more than a decade. Long after the shuffling, awkward parade was over, I stood in a line to hug the principal and cried again. What the heck? I guess I’m a late-blooming sap.
You always learn the most from the parents who are maybe five years ahead of you. And there’s one thing they’re always saying. Pay attention, savor these moments, because you will miss them later on. I never did regret the ending of the dubious joys of toddlerhood, but I think I’ve finally arrived at my sappy threshold. I guess it’s time to get the camera and the Kleenex for the final lap of parenting. I am going to miss these moments, after all.