Last night, my son lay awake in his room as he often does, calling out to us to keep the inevitable sleep away for just a few more minutes. He was experiencing a flurry of emotions about his pending promotion to middle school. He went so far as to wish that he would fail fifth grade so that he could stay at his elementary school for one more year. I went into his room and asked the darkness, "Do you remember when you walked the bridged at preschool?"
After a moment of reflection on his promotion from Peter Pan Cooperative Nursery School, he said, "Yes."
"Do you remember how you felt then?"
"Yeah. I didn't want to leave."
"But you did. And you went to Sequoia. You never would have gotten to the place you don't want to leave if you haven't left the place you never wanted to leave in the first place."
Pretty good trick, for a parent to use logic that sounds like wisdom.
Honestly, I've had mixed feelings about this day for a long time. I'm always excited for my son to move ahead and meet new challenges, but I also know the extraordinary comfort in keeping things the same. For as long as they will hold still on their own.
But now it's time to move on, and I hear the words of Mister Incredible, Bob Parr, grumbling about his son Dash's pending graduation from fourth grade: "It's not graduation, he's moving from the fourth to fifth grade!" Even though my son will be changing buildings, I see this as part of an evolutionary step, not a completion. As an elementary school teacher, I have seen so many families show up and fawn over the accomplishments of their twelve-year-old children who have managed to complete the first leg of their public education tour. It's a nice time to stop and reflect, but it is by no means the summit. There is still a long hard climb ahead.
I know how cynical that sounds. I know how hypocritical it will sound when I tell people that I am taking the morning off to go sit in that auditorium one more time to watch my son cross another bridge.