We’re already a week and a half into our summer break. You know what that means? You know, beyond sibling bickering.
It means that our oldest son left elementary school behind a week and a half ago.
We attended the end-of-year Awards Ceremony and Fifth Grade Graduation. I knew the likelihood of bursting into tears was rather high, so I wore waterproof mascara. I should have gone for no makeup as I kept wiping the continuous leak from my left eye, thus wiping all makeup down to my eye cream off and leaving a giant red mark under my eye.
It’s not that I’m sad the kid is growing up.
But, approximately six blinks ago, he looked like this.
And now he looks like this.
And somewhere in between, he looked like these versions of himself.
It’s that somewhere in between that really gets you.
Somewhere in between, when you’re in the thick of constantly signing agendas and reading logs and permission slips, you finally miss the agenda one night. You know, the day after you ran a marathon, or something. And the look on their face lets you know one thing: They now know you can fail them… just in case they didn’t know yet.
Somewhere in between, when you’re making lunches and forgetting to send lunch money and fretting about their nutrition and making healthy after school snacks and letting finally them scavenge for themselves because they’ve got to learn how to eventually, right?
Somewhere in between, when you’re helping them learn to sound out the -ed at the end of words so it doesn’t sound like ghost-Ed, a ghost named Ed; going over spelling and vocabulary words; helping them choose right verb tenses—and then suddenly they’re correcting your grammar and you’re all, “Wait. What?”
Somewhere in between, when you start out explaining that two plus two equals four BECAUSE IT DOES and holding them when they cry because they weren’t first to finished a timed math fact test and reassuring them that their worth is not defined by a state test and receiving a letter that your child is gifted in math and you cry a little because he worked so hard to get to that point and you had nothing to do with it other than making him believe in himself.
Somewhere in between, when they think the sun rises and sets on the heads of their first teacher to listening to a rant about why such-and-such teacher is so unfair to standing up for them when they need it to teaching them to stand up for themselves in the academic environment because you can’t fight all their battles to having a teacher tell you that they’re going to miss your kid the most.
Somewhere in between, when every kid is their friend to no one is their friend to situations that aren’t bullying but just kids being jerks because kids can be jerks to an incident that makes you want to punch another child in the face for hurting your baby to reassuring your kid that they’re cool and/or that cool is overrated to losing control over who they’re actually friends with to taking pictures of them with their best friends on that last day and realizing you knew these kiddos when they were that little too and it makes you want to cry again.
So you do.
Somewhere in between, when your kid loved school more than anything to when they hated it and didn’t want to go to the nervousness that accompanies leaving behind elementary school and heading to middle school which you know won’t be fully felt until the first day of school next year—for either of you.
Somewhere in between, he turned from a little boy into a tween. Somewhere in between, he learned a bunch of important lessons in everything from academics to life skills to relationships.
Somewhere in between, he stopped holding my hand in public. He recently refused to kiss me at bedtime. His attitude rivals that of my own at that age. He’s starting to play the trombone. His feet are bigger than mine.
Additionally, I have the honor of watching him play Little League this year in the Majors, comprised with 11- and 12-year-old boys. The difference between the end-of-fifth-graders and the end-of-sixth-graders is painfully visible, and so I am aware that even at the end, we remain somewhere in between as big things are about to happen.
I feel incredibly thankful for the experience he had in elementary school. I feel unprepared for what comes next, just like every other time he’s started in on something new.
On to the next somewhere in between which we got a preview of the day after fifth grade graduation at my cousin Hannah’s graduation party.
Well then. Okay.