Anyone in education can tell you, this is a weird time of year. Part of you is so ready for the classes to end and the deep breath of summer vacation to begin. The other half is wishing it could continue just a bit longer because the kids are wonderful. It’s a catch-22 and it always hits me hardest after working in the high school building. Kindergarten graduation and the elementary to middle school transition ceremony are celebrations. Those kids are headed to the next chapter and you continue to follow their progress and celebrate their achievements. High school kids are leaving, heading off into the world. They aren’t coming back next year.
They leave full of hope and expectation. Off to see what the “real” world holds for them, sure that it is better than what high school offered. Even if they were the overachievers, the students involved in everything, they are ready in June. That changes by September sometimes, but in June? They can take on the world.
I watch them with a complicated recipe of emotions. I know there is no straight and narrow way ahead. I know some of the hurdles they thought had been jumped in high school will show up again, waiting to trip them up as they head past. I will miss them, but the tight feeling in my chest has nothing to do with that. It results from knowing I won’t be there everyday for the next chapter. I’ll hear from some of them, they’ll keep in touch, but it won’t be the same. So the tears sit in my eyes and I will them not to fall, because I’m the celebration person, the cheerleader who encourages them about future plans and dreams. Not the teary parent.
I won’t go to graduation. I know my limits. I can’t handle the last good-bye. I’ve never been good at them. I am a wreck and the effort to keep my emotions in check exhausts me. So many of them have tramped across my heart leaving their own unique footprints, while others wormed their way into my soul, settling in and making themselves at home. How do you say good-bye to kids who spend part of every school day with you? You bite your lip, smile, and cheer them on. Then you leave town before the tears fall.