Last week was a week of highs and lows, of milestones and reality checks. There was a celebration for 60+ fifth graders, kids that parents have marveled at over the last six months as we approached the end of elementary school and realized how they’ve transformed before our very eyes. But on the day of the outdoor gathering, I walked around with a camera in hand and saw them both as little kids and as the people they are becoming. As I watched them toss eggs, play parachute games, and do sack races, they seemed so young still to me… full of laughter and the ability to be silly. And yet in the photos, I see they are on the cusp of transition and change.
There were many markers in the week. It is a week, thankfully, I’d planned for, making sure certain things were ordered, decided, bought well in advance. In the end, after so much buildup, the day of the fifth grade promotion felt fleeting. I didn’t realize it was a week in which I would walk very much alone, and yet once the week began, once I stood up, pulled myself into the shape needed to usher us through and to ensure that the last week of school was special for both, there was little time to get caught up in thinking or overthinking.
Over the weekend, I drove to pick the oldest up from an end-of-year sleepover, and as I passed through a neighborhood basking in a slow morning, I found myself at a four-way stop, a small, corner diner in front of me. There was no line outside the doors in the way I always remember, but as I stopped briefly, and caught sight of the corner, the faces lining the windows at tables inside, I was flooded with the memory of all the years in which that diner was a hallmark of our weeks, a ritual, a routine. When we first started going there on the weekends, the youngest was still in a high chair. Later, he was greeted each week with a bowl of pickles. I pass by it often enough, but somehow seeing it, on the heels of the week, brought the passage of time to life, a black and white of what was and what is, of where I’ve been and where I am.
And so summer begins.
I have hope that I can balance their days and my own schedule of work. One has already started learning a new game programming platform. One had me pull down a container of beads from the top of the cabinet and has fallen back into a familiar pattern of making small patterned circles and squares. One grabbed a sketchbook at bedtime last night, though it was very late since we’d watched both Camp Rock 1 and Camp Rock 2. But despite the hour, he settled into his night with a graphite stick in hand. And yesterday, both settled to play chess, the oldest teaching the youngest. This morning, the game, apparently, was close.