Today, my oldest son graduates from elementary school. Some would say that in the grand scheme of things, an elementary school graduation is rather insignificant. I disagree. To me, elementary school graduation is the first big step on the stairway to adulthood.
My son has spent the entirety of his 11 years guiding me as I learn how to do this parenting thing. With every passing milestone, I follow his lead, venturing ginger, uncertain steps behind him as he marches forward with steadfast confidence. While I cling to the idea that he is still my baby, he forges ever forward in his journey towards adulthood, his every step setting the stage for the siblings who come after him. Together, my son and I navigate the path between “first time mom” and “seasoned parent.”
It feels like a lifetime ago that I first stepped through the doors of his elementary school. Overwhelmed by the sea of children, I clung to my boy, each of us teary eyed and anxious, surrounded by strangers, uncertain of what our future would bring. Minutes later, he was enveloped in the loving arms of his Kindergarten teacher, who assured me with a warm smile and gentle pat on the shoulder that it would all be just fine. Watching them walk off hand in hand, his steps becoming more confident as they made their way down the hallway, I once again took his lead. But this time, his lesson to me was to step back. To trust in those whose chosen life path was to educate children, my precious boy included. Six hours later, I met my son in the pick up line, and immediately noticed that something had changed. Teary eyes and quivering lips had been replaced by an exuberant smile. Uncertainty about school had been replaced by a lust for learning that has yet to wane.
His teachers through the years have done so much more than “just teach” him. They have nurtured his interests, comforted him in times of need, laughed with him in times of joy, shared with him inside jokes and life stories, and given him a community of trusted adults.
And so I thank you –
Mrs. Peloquin and Mrs. Brignolo
Mrs. Collins and Mrs. Farber
Mrs. Davidson and Ms. D’Intino
And all of the specialists, paraprofessionals, assistants and coaches too numerous to name individually:
Thank you for guiding Damon through this part of his childhood. For bolstering his love of learning, for showing him respect, for challenging him, for being there when he needed a listening ear, and for simply making him feel safe and loved.
And thank you for guiding me through. For teaching me to trust in others. For giving me the comfort of knowing that he is in capable, loving hands. And for allowing me to quietly tread the steps of being a first time mom, watching my baby grow up.