Thursday, September 8, 2016

The last first day........

Yesterday my 17-year-old son left for his last first day of school. He's a senior and his sisters have all graduated. That means my time as a mom with school-aged kids is creeping to a close and I don't know how to feel about it.

On the one hand, HALLELUJAH! I won't miss all the forms to sign, the major guilt trips to volunteer, difficult teachers, the morning rush, the fees that bleed my checkbook dry. There is a certain joy in having your children grow into independent adults - driving themselves to their own jobs and their college classes, picking up their own deodorant at the store, occasionally even asking what YOU might need at the store, or dropping by with an unexpected coffee treat they purchased on their own. It's wonderful to see them navigate adult situations with grace (or sobbing, depending), and there's nothing quite like having an unguarded conversation with a child who becomes more of a peer than a dependent.


I WILL miss watching my kids perform on stage in drama productions. I will miss volunteering for fun events, having a busy schedule filled with "kid stuff", being part of a school community, and hosting a gaggle of teenagers for a party. I will miss the predictability of a school year schedule, nine months of school and summers off, with planned vacation breaks. I will miss field trips, parties, bus stops and projects. I will miss choir concerts, band concerts, early-morning cheerleading, baseball games, softball games, dance classes and recitals, art lessons, and, yes, even the driving to and from places for hours each day. A lot of these memories have already gone; slipped away with the early years of school, and been replaced by trips across the country and a kids who have been driving for years.

But I will mostly miss this:

Our little, cheap, poster board "Back to School" sign that has graced each and every one of my boy's first days of school. And almost every one of his sisters' first days. It was an afterthought, really, something I saw online most likely, that made me search for something to make a sign with. All I had was a piece of yellow poster board, likely already written on, that I ended up cutting a small piece of. I decided to leave the year off so I could just add a sign year after year. Somehow, in 15 years, I managed to find a piece of yellow paper somewhere around the house to attach to the bottom of the sign with the proper year written on it. 

Other parents thought it was clever and borrowed it for their children. It was used at the bus stop every year until my youngest was out of elementary school. 
See those kids? They're all so old now!

My kids rarely complained about the obligatory photos. I even took it so far as to have them take it into the classroom on occasion to be photographed with their teacher.  

This picture made it into Family Fun, a national parenting magazine! 

In later years, this idea became more popular, with crafty parents employing elaborately-decorated chalkboards listing the child's stats - their current teacher, what they wanted to be when they grew up, their year in school - and I thought about upgrading, but as things happen, I ran out of time or energy or maybe I was just sort of attached to our silly yellow sign. And so it stayed. 

This First Day of School sign captured my kids at every stage and looking back on them is a treat - and perhaps a laugh or two! The clothing choices, the braces, the hair color - all reflect the individuals who weathered the storm of K-12 school and lived to tell about it. 

Clearly, Hayley was the least reluctant to have the first day of school photo done. Or, I just can't find them. Either way, here she is, through the years! 

 Hannah....she was in an independent study program half of junior and all of senior year, so I improvised. 

Arlie came into our family in 2005 and thus joined the sign-holding club! 

Harrison had the most photos, since he started preschool with the advent of the sign. 

I'm going to miss having kids in school. I'm going to miss having young ones. And I'm going to miss this stupid sign. It's the little things, really. They're the ones we hold dear. 

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