I remember walking my first child to his first day of kindergarten. It was so nerve-wracking. I remember walking my second child to kindergarten. That was a little easier. It was also just last year — or at least that’s what it feels like. Between my two boys, our family has been in elementary school for nine years. Which means for nearly a decade, I have been walking kids to school each morning and walking them back in the afternoons. I have stuffed folders, read books to students and taught art lessons. The yard duties, the crossing guard, and the ladies in the office are my buddies (although my kids might consider them nemesis). Last week was the final elementary school band concert. If you haven’t heard an elementary school band concert before… let me tell you, it’s something. Who could forget the sound of those honking trumpets and squawking trombones? But just a few months ago, those were children who didn’t know how to read music. Those kids could barely read words when they started elementary school. Now, it’s the end of an era.
Elementary school is nothing like the school days of my childhood, when my mother said goodbye to me at the bus stop or just sent me out the front door to walk there myself. In this millennium, parents walk their kids to the classroom door, if they dare to leave — instead staying to stuff folders and read books. But what happens is that the schoolyard becomes a major source or social connections for moms and dads, too. And I don’t just mean in that judgy “can you believe she brought store-bought cupcakes” way, but also in that “it takes a village” way.
So yeah… No more homework, no more books. No more teacher’s dirty looks. No more teacher’s conferences or Open Houses. No more chatting with other parents while waiting for pickup or catching up with a friend while gathering supplies in the art closet. I know. Because I’ve already had one child move on, and I’ve experienced the changes one time. But I had one foot still in the chocolate milk and tempera paint stained waters of the lower grades.
I’ll miss elementary school, but like my kids, I’m also ready to move on. I feel changes coming in the not-too-distant future, but first I need to let this sink in and enjoy the moment.