Last day of school this week. The backpack is nearly as big as his body; that’s no optical illusion and the body-to-backpack proportionality serves up a dutiful reminder for me that my little boy is still small. To me it feels like he’s perfectly diminutive amidst the big surroundings of his school– it’s boards and doors towering high enough to accommodate the 8th graders yet inclusive enough to welcome him gently into grade school.
It’s clear that as Kindergarten lands in the rear-view mirror my hearts aches. I know I’m supposed to celebrate his growth and accomplishment for finishing. And I do. Yet all I can think about today is the reality that now that he’s technically a first grader he is also a bona fide “school-aged boy.” In pediatrics that does mean something altogether different. In fact once a child is 6 years of age, we often tell families it’s fine to come in for well child care check-ups every other year, absent concerns, until a child is 11 years of age. Growth typically is steady and stable, children advance in school, and routines are made–this is “school-age.” Fortunately even though some of this time between 6 and 11 may be very routine, even in 1st grade, a friend reminded me last night, “They are still made to believe they are the center of the universe.”
Every parent ahead of us warns us about the speed of travel through parenthood. They reflect on the g-forces of time and the flash of light between Kindergarten and the day they find themselves standing in an archway with a mature child at the end of high school. Often those ahead of us couple the warning about the velocity with an instruction. “Savor this time,” they say. And so many of us do. We savor, we relish, we reflect, and we love. It isn’t always perfect and pretty, there are tantrums and accidents, mess-ups and failures, but we do savor and we really are present in the moment so often.
Sometimes I want to scream out that we parents (of young children) –we get it, too.
I’ll admit though that amidst the myriad of moments this past year that I have felt mindful and present, I’ve also had plenty of others where I lacked attention.
I’ve been distracted, tethered to my computer, away for work, and stressed. I’ve missed precious moments. Yet I have come to understand more and more that we all have our distractions and tugs. The moments of transition that come at the end of school urge us all to evaluate how to slow things down. For me I feel the need to reapply the brakes and take hold of this delicious time with my little boys while the backpack is still so large. Savor it differently amidst the longer days that summer offers so generously.
So we savor– just like the elders tell us. We all surely know by now that we can’t stop time…
I know that too soon those towering doors will open again and welcome my 1st grader. Until then, I’ll do my best to sit amidst the present. Relish, savor, enjoy, and marvel at the beautiful privilege it is to watch a child grow.