I don’t have a Beginner anymore. And I no longer have both children in the Morse Building, where the very youngest children are. Sob. Gracie moves up to second grade in September, for which I have to drop her off at the gate. And Whit goes to kindergarten. How is this possible?
Last night Whit decided he wanted to write a note to his beloved teacher. He told me what he wanted to write, I dictated the letters for each word, and he wrote them. Spidery, and all over the page, but legible. He wrote: “Christina. Teddy (her dog). I love u. Whit.”
This morning at the closing ceremony we clapped for all of the Morse Building teachers, as the principal called them each by name, and my eyes, of course, welled up with tears. I feel such intense gratitude towards these people who have taken such great care of my children, whose love and attention and wisdom and intelligence has so wildly benefited Grace and Whit.
And then I really lost it when Grace’s class sang the song that the first grade sings every year at the closing ceremonies. It’s about how it is “time to go” and I just sat there, camera in my lap, unable to take pictures because I was unabashedly crying. I could see Grace watching me, aware of my tears, and she gave me a small wave once their song was over. Once again, my daughter taking care of me. Oh, she should not have to be the grown-up. At least not yet. I thought about last year, when at this same ceremony she held my hand walking out and whispered to me, “Mummy, your sunglasses aren’t fooling anyone.”
I feel as though the ferris wheel of life has turned another revolution, and it is spinning so fast I can’t quite catch my breath. I am aware that the days that Grace and Whit will want to hold my hand tightly on this ride are numbered. And that makes me ache. Ache for all the squandered hours, for the nights that slipped away in a blur of Star Wars and Harry Potter without my really truly appreciating them. Ache for the drop-offs that I didn’t cherish, ache for the hundreds of mornings that the children trailed me into Starbucks and stood with me in line, ache for the hug and kiss that Grace gave me each morning before vanishing into her classroom, ache for Whit squirming in my arms as I tried to get him to read the “morning message” with me. Ache for the red folder of work that Grace brought home every Sunday which I sometimes only cursorily glanced through. Ache for the Sundays that I didn’t take the time to help Whit pick an item for the “letter of the week” (though I remain proud of the ice cube in a ziploc he brought in for “I,” which hung, a forlorn baggie of water, all week on the wall).
All those days are gone now.
All my Beginners are gone now.