I found myself diving into the plastic bins in the garage labeled “Keepsakes” yesterday afternoon. I was already stringing along with a head full of memories of my son as a Kindergartner. I decided I could wallow around for awhile lingering over pictures, artwork, and a little homemade book titled “I love school” made of green construction paper. How I’m longing to hold that little boy at the age of 5.
His school sponsored a wonderful ceremony yesterday morning. All of the members of the Class of 2017 were honored as well as their Kindergarten “Buddies” in the Class of 2029. Yes, you heard that right, “The Class of 2029”! Those parents were freaking out just like I did at that time. My son’s school (also my alma mater, his father’s, and his grandmother’s) is a K-12 school founded in the late 1800’s and is very big on tradition. When he was in Kindergarten, I remember he had a buddy from the Senior class, but this event was taking it to the next level. I swear they designed every moment to leave me in a puddle weeping on the floor. I managed hold it together. . . mostly. . .
Every year, the Seniors pair up with a Kindergartener in the Fall and participate in activities together all year long. They play on the playground, put together puzzles, do art projects, and ponder what it would be like to be in the other’s shoes. The Kindergarteners imagine what it would be like to be a Senior heading off to college. The Seniors remember what was like to be 5 years old without a care in the world. They get the chance to play like a little kid and forget about Calculus, AP exams, and college decisions for awhile.
The Seniors entered the stage one at a time holding the hand of their buddy. They stopped mid-stage behind a set that was created for the perfect photo opportunity. Beautiful baskets of flowers flanked each side of a display with the school name spelled out in large, shiny metal letters. Each Kindergartener stood still while the Senior knelt on one knee to pose. I lost it as soon as the first kids came on stage. I knew these Seniors when they were in Kindergarten. It wasn’t that long ago when they were running around on the playground and giggling at the world. Memories of each of them popped in my head. After all were presented, Seniors and Buddies sat to watch a video of their year together. The students were all interviewed about the experience. Those little buddies were a hoot! Each class then sang a song. The Kindergarteners did a robust version of “We are the Children of Tomorrow” full of an abundance of jubilant motions. A Senior soloist with the most beautiful tenor voice sang “Go the Distance” as I continued trying to hold back tears. The Seniors were more stoic – they probably should have been taught a few moves to keep up with their little buddies!
Ahhh, Kindergarten. I remember the play dates, the school trip to the pumpkin patch when I had to reach through the corn maze to grab two fighting boys by the scruff of their necks & lift them to safety, and the handmade kimonos they each wore to a tea ceremony to honor the Japanese traditions they studied. There were mounds of worksheets and drawings that came home everyday. I framed the first drawing that he brought home with him on the first day of school. It is still on my desk. I remember one time another child’s work came home with my son’s. I called the mom & asked if she wanted it back. “No!” she said. We both admitted we stashed items in the trash can when no one was looking – there was just so much we couldn’t keep it all
I helped plan parties, volunteered, and the women I met were some of my first “mom friends”. After school, someone would bring treats for the playground. The kids played together while the moms chatted on nice warm days. Kindergarteners are just so darn happy!! And oh, the sweetness, when your child wants to hold your hand and show you something really exciting. I wish I knew that the last time he held my hand would actually be the last. The moment sneaks up on you, and then it’s gone. Gone forever.
The ceremony closed like it always does – with the singing of the school song. Secretly, it’s always my favorite part. After all, it’s my school song too. I hold my head up high and sing as clear and loud as I dare. It takes me back to all of the times I was on that stage, and I rejoice in singing my favorite stanza. . .
“Proud to be your son’s and daughters, Proud to bear your name. Sad indeed we’ll be to leave you, Leave your halls of fame.”
With each ceremony and each tradition, my son is slowly making his way out the door. I hope this song rings as true for him as it has for me these many years later. Is it too much to hope he enrolls his child at this school? He will experience the joy of watching his child grow up with a Senior Buddy to help show him the way. Maybe then he’ll understand why his mother is such a hot mess of tears and, yet, so very thankful for the memories.