Last week was my daughter’s last day of second grade. We get out of school early here, before Memorial Day. Then after eight weeks off, go back the first week of August. I suspect it stems from the area’s agrarian roots.
My daughter’s teacher is moving to a new school next year, and my daughter is going to be homeschooled while attending enrichment programs in the arts two days a week. Because of this, the only chance she has of seeing her teacher again—who we loved—is running into her at the grocery store.
I was there for the final party. The teacher handed out gift bags for the kids and explained something special inside them. She had included two pins that said “I am loved.” She wanted each of them to know that she loved them and how proud she was of them and that she worried over them. The second pin was for them to give to someone who needed to know they were loved.
All of the adults were teary eyed, and I didn’t think her teacher would get through it. But the kids just watched her as if she were explaining which center they were going to next or where they needed to put their chairs.
While most of these kids knew they wouldn’t see their teacher again, it didn’t seem to bother them. My daughter did cry while she wrote her teacher a thank you note. And she said her teacher cried when she read it. But she’s more sensitive than most. And even at that, she wasn’t upset when it was time to leave school for the last time.
Which got me to thinking. I don’t remember being particularly upset the last day of school or feeling like I was going to miss my teachers. In fact, I can only remember two “last days of school” while I was in elementary school. Part of that may have been because I went to a small neighborhood school, and I knew I’d see my teachers in the store over the summer and certainly at school next year. Mostly I was glad for the break. It really wasn’t until high school ended that I knew that no matter how hard we tried and vowed to keep in touch, I would never see most of my classmates again.
So what is it about life that makes the endings more bittersweet for adults? At our age we’ve been through enough of them that we should expect them as the course of life. Some people we encounter only for a season and then move on, but our lives are richer for the experience. It has happened before, and it will happen again. If anything, I would think this repeated experience would make us more pragmatic than our children, most of whom are experiencing this situation for one of the first times in their lives.
Maybe it’s because they haven’t experienced these partings before that they don’t know what it’s like to remember someone fondly, to have regrets that we didn’t say or do more, to wish a season could be longer—or sometimes shorter. Maybe it just hasn’t hit them yet what they will be missing.
What about you? Do you remember your last days of school? Which ones stand out the most?
By the way--and completely off the subject--I did find the perfect shoes for that dress. And on a sad note, my Mac is back in the shop. Like me, it's losing its memory. Sigh.