Thursday, June 14, 2007
On Monday, my older son graduated from eighth grade (they call it a “promotion,” not a graduation). I was worried I would start to cry once “Pomp and Circumstance” began to sound, but I didn’t. That's because I already had my transition moment at his Orchestra concert a couple of weeks ago. I don’t particularly like crying when I hear “One Hand, One Heart” in the West Side Story medley, like I did at the concert. But I've got to cry sometime. I always have these moments at some point when my kids go through a transition: from home baby to nursery school, from nursery school to kindergarten, from fifth grade to middle school, and so on. My eyes fill with tears and I want everything to stop at that moment, that very one in which everything seems so right. Why does it have to change? In that moment, quivering between the old and the new, I see my son at his peak. He's at the top of his hill--however small. He’ll never have it so good again, I think. I cry because I recognize these moments as steps in their slow and steady glide away from me. End of the school year is a pretty obvious marker. And I look back and see myself at that same transition point, eager to move on to the next stage, innocent of the experiences I accumulated after it.
But my son's graduation was a celebration. The kids were giddy, clapping for each and every of their 437 classmates enrobed in red gowns as each and every name was called. Even the principal, usually somewhat wooden, warmly described the exit letters each student wrote to her about how they have changed since sixth grade. It’s been a gradual saying goodbye process for my son and his friends: the last music concert, the eighth grade picnic, the eighth grade dance, the graduation. I heard a lot of kids cried at the dance, so by yesterday they were ready to party. And party they did. Afterwards there was a lunch, play on the beach, another dinner and dance, and a sleepover. By the time I picked him up at 1 pm the next day, he was quiet. But it was a satisfied quiet.
Today, after three days of rare sunshine in June, it feels like summer. Graduation already seems a long time ago.