Sunday, June 03, 2012

Graduation day

He knows his colors. He can recite the alphabet. He can count to fifteen. He 's memorized his address and home telephone number. He can spell his name and write it so that's it's almost decipherable to the uninitiated eye. He can write with a pencil, paint with a brush and cut with scissors, though he sometimes refuses to perform any of those tasks on demand.

After this day we will say goodbye to the Marilla Cuthbert Academy for Unspeakably Charming Children forever.

A tear may sting the corners of my eye as I see him standing all fidgety-like in the backyard playground awaiting his preschool commencement. But I won't let it invite friends.

I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry.

I'm practically a professional at stoicsm. After all, this isn't the first time that I've witnessed a child of mine graduate from play-school to this-is-your-new-job school. It's the last time.

I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry.

He's stil my baby, I remind myself … thankful that even at the ripe old age of almost-four he's still a half-a-foot shorter than all of his school mates. He still looks like my baby even if he insists on speaking in full sentences, understands traffic rules and can tell the difference between a Mustang and a Corvette.

He's not ready to drive yet. There will be more than a decade of big, yellow buses in our future. They will come to collect him in the morning and bring him home in the afternoon.

I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry.

“My sister will sit wif me on the bus so nobody will bully me,” he says as if he's reading from a script. His sister … standing behind him. … silently mouths the words “He'll be fine.” as her eyes add the context: “sitting by himself … with the little kids … where he won't cramp my style.”

I shoot her The Look, but I'm not worried. I know they'll work it out. They always do.

“Poor guy,” Ittybit says, wryly. “He doesn't know how good he had it in preschool.”

He stares at her, waiting for an explanation. “What do you mean?”

“The work is SOOO MUCH harder in Kindergarten. You have HOMEWORK! And ASSIGNED SEATS! There aren't any TOYS in the classroom or BIKES on the playground. You can't HOLD HANDS with your friends in the hallway and you NEVER get to go on field trips ever again.”

He shrugs his shoulders. “I don't care. I'll get to ride the bus.”

She winces.

She's spent three years working her way toward the back of the bus, where the oh-so-big-and-mature third graders sit. She knows the possibility of being yanked back to the front to sit with her brother isn't remote.
“The bus is nice if you can sit with your friends,” she brightens.

“But I don't have any friends. … My friends are all going to another school.”

“You'll meet someone on your first day … just like I did. You may even be best friends forever.”

“Shhhhhh,” I say in my best I Will Not Cry accent.

Marilla and her school will soon be a memory.

It's bittersweet. Outgrowing things that have been comforting and expanding into new territory, knowing that eventually what was unaccustomed will be old hat.

I smile as he tries to balance a construction paper mortorboard on his noggin while twirling the tassel, a sparkling tendril of curling ribbon, in his never-still hands.

And, of course, I'll cry.

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