... No more parent's dirty looks!
It has been the most difficult year yet with the kids, school-wise. Turns out, the more kids you have the more obnoxiousness there is to deal with on the school front. But no more. Today was the last day of school. The last day on the conveyor belt, as we have taken to calling it (more on that later!).
When I was a girl, every year mom would retell the story of her last day of second grade. Her school backed up to a field, and as the dismissal bell rang out, pronouncing that summer had officially begun, all of the children would scramble from their desks and, cheering, run across the field towards their homes. That day my mother joined them, and as they ran whooping and hollering, she took a mis-step into a gopher hole, twisted her ankle, and broke her leg. She spent the whole summer in a cast.
I don't know why mom always told that story, except that maybe that last-day-of-school feeling washed over her as we came through the door excited for summer. Perhaps there is a lesson of care to be learned. Maybe we are supposed to watch our step as we embark on new adventures. Maybe it's just a story.
This school year was hard in more ways than can be counted, multiplied, divided and then converted into a decimal. One of our children started the year with a bang, ending the first grading period with high marks, but as the year trudged on, his sparks began to fizzle out. Falling behind became seriously falling behind, which eventually morphed into "If I get any further behind I'll be able to see my own butt". I have learned a lot of things in the process. You cannot MAKE a child DO anything. You can encourage-remind-plead-bargain-reward-scold-punish-scream and finally Loose-all-civility, act-like-a-moron, and threaten-to-sell-said-child-to-the-Avon-lady-as-a-makeup-model. Ultimately, you are not in charge (and by you, I mean me). The part of the child that governs self preservation, and values future-fun must be intact and functioning well. That's fine for most kids, but some never get there. I have learned that I need to be a cheerleader, not always a coach. I have learned that the assignments will fade into History, but that how I have spoken will remain in the Current Events folder in his mind, maybe for ever. I have learned that I am still learning.
As is our tradition, we took the kids to get ice cream for our last-day-of-school celebration. Then Guy packed the girls up to take them camping and I took the boys, all three, swimming. Jonah navigated his way around the top step and I sheltered him from falling. When they are little you can do that. It's not easy, or sometimes even possible, when they get older.
Later, as Adam and I headed off to the movies, I dropped Ethan off for his first dance.
"Dance with cute girls!" I shout out the the door as he closes it and wait for him to say "no-way".
"I will." he says confidently as the door slams.
Oh, my gosh! Wait a minute! No protests, no blushing?
I unroll the window (Thank you, Japan, for automatic windows),
"Wait! When you ask a girl to dance, make sure you are polite!" I babble, grasping for some sort of mother-wisdom. "And no bear hugging!" I instruct, complete with hand movements. It's was a really bad version of charades. Mini-van charades. "One hand on her waist, right hand up. No! Left hand up, holding her hand..." I hear the words I am saying, and somehow it seems like I am making it worse all on my own.
"See ya, Mom." He waves and turns. I hem and hah a feeble goodbye-have-fun-I-love-you as he heads for the door. It's like he's running across a field full of gopher holes. I roll up the window and tell Adam that I feel like crying. In the rear-view mirror I see that he has that "You're so weird" look on his face. I tell him that when he goes to his first dance I will cry for sure.
"Why?" He asks, weird look amplifying.
"Because you're nice to me." I say, half joking.
At the movie, I find myself out in the lobby with a noisy 10 month old. Some nice ladies from Texas flirt with him and visit with us for a while. They ask me about my kids. After I give them the low-down, I feel lucky and happy and sad and old. Really, really old.
I miss Guy. I imagine him in the tent with our chatty girls, promising them that there are no bugs or bears waiting to eat them. A fat baby sleeps beside me. One that is growing up so fast if I stare at him long enough I think I can actually see it happening.
I wish I could keep them all out of fields forever.
I hate gophers.