Five years ago I took part in a graduation ceremony. I wasn’t a graduate, but the senior class adviser. Part of my job was to stand next to the assistant principal as he called the graduates by name before they walked across the stage to their future.
I was hugely pregnant.
From the belly down, it looked like I had tree trunks attached to bricks. My feet were exploding out of the flip flops that I had crammed them into because not wearing any footwear was not acceptable.
My normally billowy Masters robe was taut across my huge belly. Students joked that they should rub it for good luck before going across the stage. I put a stop to that real quick.
I had a special set of keys in my pocket to get into the locker room bathrooms in case the hour or so ceremony was too long to go without peeing.
My principal at the time was sure I was going to go into labor in the gym in front of all the students and parents. I assured him I still had a month and then directed him to “chill out already.”
I was hot and uncomfortable, but I remember that when the band played Pomp and Circumstance, Eddie kicked when he felt the bass drum. As I watched my students cross the stage and shake the hands, my eyes welled up as I pushed Eddie’s butt out of my side. Some day that would be my boy.
Five years flew by so quickly.
All of a sudden I found myself sitting at a different kind of graduation.
This time I was in the audience and not on stage with the graduates.
Instead of mortar boards and gowns there were brightly colored polo shirts and pretty dresses.
Instead of a gym, we were in a Music and Motion room.
Instead of a band playing “The Star Spangled Banner” there were small voices leading us in the “Pledge of Allegiance”.
Instead of commencement addresses there were songs like “Buenas Tardes” and “Grandma’s Glasses” and “Tap Tap”.
Instead of cautionary words about the future from a superintendent, there were loving words of reflection from a teacher.
Instead of a single name called, there was a name with a list of favorite things from the school year.
Instead of a diploma holder, there were “preschool certificates”.
The common thread between this preschool graduation and the one five years ago is the emotional surge that welled up in my eyes and threatened to fall in front of everyone.
I kept telling myself, “it’s only preschool. It’s neat, but it’s not a huge deal.”
My heart disagrees.
Completing a stage in the academic process is a big deal.
Plus it was a big deal to Eddie.
He told me the night before that he was a little scared because so many people would be watching. Of course once he was up there he was probably the least affected by the eyes on him.
But he also told me he was sad to leave because he loves his teachers and he will miss them. His two best friends–whom he has been with for the past three years in daycare and now in preschool–will be going to different schools for Kindergarten, and Eddie will be done with daycare completely.
This graduation is the end of a big chapter of Eddie’s life.
Saying goodbye to preschool and his teachers is just the first step. Later this summer he will say goodbye to his daycare mom and his daycare friends, and in the fall, he will start a brand new chapter: elementary school.
We have thirteen more ends of school years ahead of us, but we are going to take the time we need to say goodbye to this very first one.
Then we will celebrate the start of Kindergarten, but until then? Summer Vacation!!