New Chapters

It’s happening in my house again.

Another kid is moving on.

And while this time it’s only promoting to high school, in my bones I can feel a shift.

My babies are growing up. And I am so very proud.

My daughter will stand proud this evening in her promotion robe, along with her bestest friend since they were babies.

And then they will  move on.

I will write about it, once the dust settles. Once I catch my breath at the quickness of those nine years of school.

But for today I share again what it was like last year at this time…when Pomp and Circumstance filled my heart.


Pomp and Circumstance

I almost don’t recognize him as he walks down the hallway from his bedroom.

Long black gown adorned with honor cords; black cap and 2011 tassel in his man-sized hands.

He’s ready to go.

His graduation is the end-result of spelling tests and learning cursive; of sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the rug and using his listening ears.

Of years of group projects, PowerPoint presentations, and cramming for finals; of early-morning alarm clocks and the pounds of heavy books he carried on his back.

And while somewhere deep inside me I can feel the tears, as he stands before me now I just feel pride.

The tears can wait for now.

Truth be told, there were tears earlier in the day. Pre-emptive tears, shed while dusting the family pictures and feeling mournful of the little boy smiling back at me from the frames.

I offer him a ride to the school, so we won’t have too many cars there when the ceremony is over.

Always logical, this mom.

The first time I left him in this parking lot, I watched him walk in with his backpack loaded and new shoes, ready to take whatever high school was ready to throw his way.

I can’t help but watch him as he walks in for the last time.

Walking tall and proud, in his gown.

Now he’s ready to go.

An hour later I sit in the football stadium, the dull roar of family and friends surrounding me. People have made banners and signs; hold bouquets of flowers and balloons for their graduates.

I hold nothing but my breath.

The band cues up the traditional Pomp and Circumstance song and far across the field I see the line of graduates begin filing in.

Gold gown, then black; girl, then boy.

Over five hundred of them, but there’s only one I’m looking for in the crowd.

At least one hundred students march towards their seats until I see him enter the stadium.

I bite my lip to catch myself from crying as I stare at this young man who used to hold my hand to cross the street; who wore footie jammies and loved mac and cheese.

Confident and proud, he carries himself around the corner and down the row to his seat.

The obligatory speeches follow, a medley of songs sung, the national anthem applauded.

And then, the names.

Over five hundred names. Air horns blow, cowbells clang, family and friends scream.

His row stands and begins their walk towards the podium.

More cheers, more cowbell.

And finally, they call it.

The name I wrote on that card in the hospital seventeen years ago.

There he is, my baby boy.

And he’s ready to go now.

Shooting Stars and Tissues

When you work at an elementary school, you don’t really mark the passing of time by the changing of the seasons or by flipping the calendar page.  There are milestones to be passed in each year, some academic and some not.

At our school we have the usual events each month, a few spirit assemblies thrown in here and there, egg drop, spring break, standardized testing, Open House, and the traditional end of the year field trips to the bowling alley or park.

And then, when the last day of school is about a week away, we have the Shooting Star song.

I’m not even sure who wrote this song, but the graduating 5th graders sing it at our school-wide Awards Assembly each June.  Boys and girls sit stiffly in metal folding chairs, facing the entire school in their nice clothes and uncomfortable shoes that pinch their toes.  They have paid their dues, sitting through assemblies for 6 years on the hard linoleum floor with legs crossed.  Now they have earned the right to sit in a real chair, facing those they have reigned over as “The Big Kids” since last August.

They look so much older, wiser, maybe a bit more mature than last fall.  Girls primp and stumble in their heels, looking nothing like they did just a day before on the playground.  The boys are still mostly disheveled, but a bit more pulled together than usual.  Proud parents crowd the room, snapping pictures for the scrapbooks.  Awards are handed out.

And then they sing the song…..and I always get teary-eyed, even when the 5th grade kids singing it aren’t related to me.

Please won’t you catch
a Shooting Star for me
And take it with you on your way
Though it seems like we’ve just met, you’re the one I won’t forget
Hope some kind wind blows you back my way

And I was thinking maybe somewhere later down the road
After all our stories have been told
I’ll sit and think of you, the dear friend I once knew
(who)Shot through my life like a shooting star

You are so dear, you’re my bright and shining star
You brighten up each and every day
You are so near, but soon you’ll be so far
So why not hold my hand today?


Sometimes I know that a part of you will show
Deep in my heart and in my smile
There will always be a part of you deep inside my heart
And I’ll know just when to let it go


Why does this sappy song make me so teary?  Why doesn’t it do that to the kids?  I guess I hear so much more in the words than they do, remember so many more goodbyes I have experienced.  To hear these words sung a cappella by 75 young people is beautiful. 

My daughter, who was one of the 5th graders last year, thinks I’m nuts.  “Oh my gosh, Mom, it’s just a song!” she says, nicely refraining from telling me to get a grip.  She has already asked me why I cry if I don’t even have a kid singing.  That, my dear, you will have to figure out on your own someday.

Tomorrow morning is the assembly.  I am taking tissues.