The days are getting longer, the grass is getting greener, tiny buds will soon appear on brown tree branches, and we are hurtling toward the end of another school year. Sometimes, I just want to shout, “Halt, stop, wait! I’m not ready for the next step!” Unfortunately, time keeps moving forward no matter how much I might want to fight it. I’m sure you know the feeling, no matter what stage your kids are in. Chubby cheeks thin out, wobbly steps transform into a run, and those first sweet words become full sentences…it’s an ongoing process, isn’t it?
But seriously, wasn’t it just yesterday that I was worrying about sending Monkey Boy off to kindergarten? Or just a few moments since I was wondering how he was going to do in third grade after looping with the same teacher for two years? Last time I checked, it seemed that I had all the time in the world before I had to worry about my last child entering middle school. But here I am on the cusp of sending Monkey Boy off, and I’m panicked. It’s not like I’m unfamiliar with middle school. Master Yi-Yi made it through just fine, and Little H is finishing up her last year with flying colors. I know you get how I feel: don’t the kids look younger every year to you, too?! Don’t tell me it’s just me!
To give him credit, Monkey Boy has had a great year. He has shown progress in leaps and bounds. His writing is neater and more detailed, his reading comprehension has grown, his language, compared to last year, is amazing, and he has made new friends. And I start to think maybe it won’t be that bad. But then I look at many of his classmates, who have also grown and progressed, and I realize he’s still not quite there. No matter how many strides he makes, he always seems to be one step behind. And most of the teachers in middle school are going to see him in this moment. They will never know how much work and struggle it has taken to get to this point. They aren’t going to be as involved or as patient as his elementary school teachers. They can’t…they have too many students.
They won’t know the joy of realizing that Monkey Boy is speaking in grammatically correct sentences, or that he finally has the ability to realize what he doesn’t understand and ask questions. They won’t know how long it has taken for him to actually understand what he reads. And they won’t appreciate the very real struggle he has with math, or how much of a precipitous ledge he is on when it comes to self-esteem. No matter where they are on the learning curve, don’t we all want school to be a positive experience for our children?
Each year, I have written his teacher a letter describing Monkey Boy’s journey, and they always encourage me to keep it up for the following year’s teacher. So, in a few short months, I will be sending six letters. But can I make them understand that no matter how hard he tries, he doesn’t catch on quickly? And will they know that he needs them to be patient and compassionate? Will they appreciate his humor and dig beyond what’s on the surface? These are qualities I’ve found in all of his elementary school teachers. And I’m terrified of leaving that environment.
So, while I’m thrilled that warmer weather is on the horizon, and summer is right around the corner, I continue to dread the ending of the school year.