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Wanting More

We are barreling towards the end of the school year, and with it, the end of elementary school.  When I flipped the calendar over to May last week, I thought back to a moment one month into the school year back in October.  I was talking to someone in the front office, and I commented that my stomach clenched as I turned the calendar to the second month of school.  “Soon it will be winter break, and then spring break, and then we’ll come back to school and race towards graduation.”

I was right.

It went by so quickly.

I don’t feel like I blinked and I missed it.  It’s more that I feel like I started off dessert with a big bowl of ice cream and the knowledge that once the ice cream was consumed, it was gone.  And now I’m scraping the melted ice cream drops off the bottom of the bowl and wistfully wishing I had more ice cream.

I am so lucky that I got to have these years, but that knowledge doesn’t really make the fact that the ChickieNob is almost my height and it’s really hard to brush her hair any less bittersweet.  Or that when the Wolvog jumps on my back that he does so ironically — a preteen’s “isn’t this so funny?” moment rather than a little kid not wanting to walk.

Every other level of school will happen at shorter intervals.  Middle school, 3 years.  High school, 4 years.  College, 4 years.  But for the last 6 years, they were in one, cozy cocoon.  Sure, the kids there were kids, which means the kids were sometimes mean.  (Let’s not sugarcoat this and pretend it was an elementary school of cherubic, perfect children.)  But with such a small and young group, the expectations were woven tightly around them, both protecting them and stifling them.  Next year is the next stage, where the community grows and the rules soften, and you wonder whether you’ve prepared them.

Have you prepared them for the truly cruel moments?  The huge disappointments?  The failures?  Have you prepared them to make good choices that balance rather than overwhelm their schedule?  To try new things?  To learn from mistakes?  Have you taught them how to be a good friend?  How to reach out to someone in need?  How to get past their personal imposter syndrome and own what they know and what they can do?

My ability to deeply influence the way they see the world is coming to an end.  The opinions of their peers will start to trump the opinions of their parents.  Their need to fit in will trump following the beat of their own drummer.  I can only hope that we made our messages loud enough that they drown out the bad ideas and self-esteem crushers.

I love them.  In a way that they will never understand because I don’t think we can ever fathom how our parents feel about us, and, frankly, no matter how well you can play with words, I don’t think these types of feelings can be contained with consonants.  But I hope that I’ve conveyed this message to them; that it has burrowed underneath the skin, sunk into their blood and bones.  I love them, and I hope that they carry that love with them as they navigate the world, as they take another step toward coming into their own.

It’s selfish, I know, piggish after getting 6 years of elementary school.  But I want more.


1 Cristy { 05.11.16 at 8:11 am }

I actually want to counter this idea that the opinions of their peers will trump the opinions of their parents. I think more weight will be given to peer’s opinions, but if you’ve laid a solid foundation (which I think you have), your opinions will still be just as important. What seems to freak most parents out is that there is this shift in importance of peers’ opinions. There’s questioning of values and that foundation. But it is a good thin as it allows for fortification of that foundation, identifying any cracks that need to be repaired or pieces that need to be replaced.

It is scary, though. There is such a need to protect and cherish that it’s hard to watch them venture out. I struggle with it at this stage and we haven’t even begun elementary school (though the transition starts next year).

Much love to you as you all go through this final month.

2 Justine { 05.11.16 at 1:28 pm }

They’ll always see you as home. I can’t imagine how they couldn’t.

My little one starts K next year, and my older one starts 5th grade. Which is sort of a blessing because his current school ends at 4th, and his new school will keep him in “elementary school” for one more year. I don’t want to let him go just yet, even if he did have sex ed this year…

Big hugs to you during this crazy transition.

3 Beth { 05.11.16 at 2:30 pm }

My daughter completes preschool in 2 weeks. It has been far from an ideal year and we are all a bit relieved to have made it through, a success. Yet I worry, as you do, about this next step. Is she ready? So much more time away from me, so many more opportunities to get hurt. I worry so much. I’m so excited for her and this new chapter which I am hoping she will love. But she’s so soft, so sensitive and sweet, I fear the world will eat her alive.

4 Jen@FrugalSteppingStones { 05.11.16 at 3:47 pm }

We just sold the last of the baby things last week, so I am experiencing a similar wistfulness, knowing it means that phase is gone for us, only to be experienced- possibly- through grandchildren some day.

5 a { 05.11.16 at 3:53 pm }

It will be fine – those kids, however tall they get, will never leave you…at least, not completely.

6 torthúil { 05.11.16 at 5:52 pm }

Such a lovely meditation on this transition in your children’s lives. I think if parents explain their values and most importantly, show by example how to follow them, then this does stick with children. Of course they have to try on other ideas and challenge what they know but what is loving and true stands the test of time, and the weirdness of the world.

7 Lori Shandle-Fox { 05.12.16 at 2:05 pm }

It’s all a big blur to me. Every year, on the first day, the assistant principal sees my kids and says: “Look at the big kindergartners”…then “Look at the big 1st graders…” etc etc… then the rest flies by and is a complete blur. Sorry that I’ve likely mentioned this before but..My kids hate that they’re small for their age, but I secretly love it because I can still hug them and kiss them up and they still feel like they’re littler than they are…. And I noticed you said “trump” (small “t”) a couple of times…Has the media overload subconsciously permeated your blog?

8 Lori Lavender Luz { 05.12.16 at 2:54 pm }

I know how rough this is on you. xoxo

I’m asking myself many of those same questions. Have I prepared them for what may come? Did I do it well? What did I miss?

9 chickenpig { 05.12.16 at 7:01 pm }

This sums up how I feel in a nutshell. I wanted more time with them as infants, more time as pre schoolers, more time in elementary school….more time. Our elementary school only goes up to fourth grade. Fourth grade!! How can my sweet 10 year old boys be in middle school already? *sigh*

10 Northern Star { 05.12.16 at 10:55 pm }

Awww, Mel, what a sweet post. Hugs to you as you hold your kiddies close.

11 mijk { 05.13.16 at 5:04 am }

Here we have 8 years of elementary from4 till 12 and with just another year for youngest I’m so done. No middleschool here just 4, 5 or 6 years of high school en then off to University! ( oldest Will be leavin home in 4 years…

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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