As a first-time elementary school parent, I wasn’t so sure—despite having town-wide school calendar taped inside my date book. I had lost track of snow days (it turns out we only had two, despite the winter feeling as if it had lasted for years). Did we need to go longer than that tentative end to our school year?
When was the last day of school!?!
June 24, answered one of those in-the-know parents, likely someone with a middle schooler in the house, someone who is far removed from the first year when all of the traditions and rules are still a bit unclear.
I promptly added that day to my Google Calendar (a new addition to my organizational toolbox) and requested the day off from work. I was there on day one of kindergarten, after all, and I want to be there on the last day, too.
And, then I counted.
One, two, three, four, five…only 24 more days until the end of the school year.
How did we get here? My son started kindergarten just yesterday, it seems, and yet now we’re approaching first-grade at warp speed.
He’s loved this school year. His reading skills have improved tremendously, he’s gotten better at raising his hand and waiting his turn before speaking (something his mother is still working on), he has made new friends, and he has developed increased sensitivity to and awareness of others. His moral streak—noting when one school mate is unkind to another, for example—has grown stronger, and I’m proud to see that he calls attention to injustice. He’s still silly at times, but that’s balanced by an inquisitiveness that exhausts me at times (there must be a limit to the number of Star Wars questions a mom has to answer in one day). He has impressed his teacher, who has told us it’s been a pleasure to have him in her class.
I’m sad about the end of the kindergarten. There’s something extra special about this year. Perhaps it’s the reality that school gets more academically competitive starting in first grade, at least in our town. Perhaps it’s because, while a bit fuzzy at times, I remember my year of kindergarten, so I know the impact of this year—how connections made and lessons learned now will shape my son for a lifetime. Perhaps it’s because I don’t want him to grow up.
“Pretend I’m 12,” he said the other day, jumping about his room as I was trying to cajole him and his sister into pajamas, their normal bedtime having long sped by. He stood tall in front of the bathroom mirror, showing off how much he’s grown since September. I could see that he was imagining himself on the cusp of the teenage years. He looked excited, enthusiastic even, for what is to come.
“Oh, no,” I said.
And, to his question of why not, I tousled his hair, and said, “Because I’m not ready yet, baby. Not yet.”