In this back-to-school season there's a lot of talk about how we want to freeze time because its moving too fast and our kids are growing up. I'm guilty. I say this because its true! It can make my heart literally ache to watch my children march off to a new grade level each fall. Each year a higher number, a taller kid, bigger back-to-school shoes to purchase. I want to take hold of time, of them, and just not let go.
Its late August and tonight is the final night before the reminder, "its a school night," finds a nagging place in my voice. And so on this last night of summer we pushed bedtime and played.
My husband took the kids to the school playground that will claim recess in a few days, while I stayed home and completed school forms. The forms -- the place where I struggle to find the right words to describe what I hope for in the school year and try to sum up my child's unique characteristics in one sentence. I'm always torn when I complete those forms. On the one hand I'm so maddeningly ready to get the kids back to school, but on the other hand so filled with emotion that summer is over and I have to hand them over again.
How do I capture that I want to hold them tight, but also let them go? That I think they're amazing always, but also so annoying right at this moment. I want to say, "he's contagiously curious and loves science... but boy, is he driving me bananas these days!"
The forms, the questions. As a parent it's our one chance to provide a small snapshot about our child and shape how they are perceived. But really it's up to our child to conduct themselves in a way that reflects the lessons we've tried to teach them. We give a one sentence answer on a form, but they have seven hours a day to be who they are going to be. We have no choice but to trust that who they reveal themselves to be will match the description we provided and hope for.
So tonight was my date with the forms and I sat home and waded through the tricky emotions associated with the answers, while my 9-year-old son, Jack, played in the spot where he will start 4th grade in just 36 hours.
My husband reports that as he played, a similarly aged girl introduced herself to Jack explaining that she just moved to town and will be starting school in his grade. They chatted and climbed until they found themselves perched on top of the monkey bars. At one point he let her know that when school starts she isn't allowed to climb on this part of the recess equipment. But then offered, "but hey, why not do it now?!" Legs swinging, they talked about fishing and travels and various things in between as they watched a blue moon rising. Happy, simple... summertime stuff. Including the fact that there won't be a full moon on Halloween until 2025 (she and her dad spent a week figuring that out).
Back home, I completed my forms introducing my son and stating my hopes for the school year. I sealed the forms in an envelope and neatly placed them on the dining room table then noted the darkness filling the windows just as my family returned. My husband smirked and whispered the evening's events to me. Concluding with the fact that during the walk home, Jack revealed to him that he might have a crush on a girl.
And so tonight, in the twilight of summer, with its third full moon of the season rising, and the echoes of busy school hallways lurking just hours away, I realized that there's beauty in holding on, but there's grace in letting go.