Sunday, June 08, 2014

Grad girl

I’ve spent the past 17 years dropping off and picking up Huffman girls at our same elementary/middle school, but it’s all over.
The youngest Huffman has graduated from eighth grade.
I graduated too — I’m now the parent of only high school students. No more K-8 for me. I’ve mom-triculated.
Over the past school year, I’d been keeping track of each “last.” Last back to school night. Last Halloween carnival. Last Spuds with Buds lunch. Last jogathon. Last science fair.
As the mom of two older girls, I know what happens next. They go on to high school, and mom and dad are definitely not invited. High school doesn’t have room parents, Chinatown trip chaperones and Spaghetti with Your Sweetheart.
I saw it coming. Since the youngest Huffman started eighth grade, she made it clear that mom should not linger on the playground. I should also not: take any photos with my iPhone during morning assembly, talk to any of her friends or ask any questions upon picking her up after school. I should just drive. And immediately change the radio to Hits 1.
All the lasts left me feeling ridiculously nostalgic about anything to do with our school.
The other day, I stayed for one last morning assembly. I got all choked up during the Pledge of Allegiance. I’ll never say the Pledge at our school again!
I looked at the girls wearing their matching red plaid skirts. No Huffman girl will ever wear the plaid again!
I listened to our principal’s daily announcements, all of which seemed especially poignant. I’ll never hear the morning announcements again!
I took one last walk down the main hallway in the school. There were the dozens of graduating class photos lining the walls, the statue of Mary, Jenny, the school secretary and the little first-grader desks. I’ll never see them again!
Of course you will, I said. Snap out of it. The school isn’t going anywhere. But our girl definitely is.
The actual graduation ceremony distracted me from more moping about all the “lasts.” The eighth-graders were all dressed up in their Sunday best and looking very much like the 14- and almost-15-year-olds they are. The girls tottered down the aisle in their heels and new dresses, and the boys wore ties and new dress shirts.
Grandmas and grandpas, sisters and brothers, grads from years past and grads to come filled the church pews, hooting loudly for their favorites. The eighth-graders had prepared a song they’d spent weeks rehearsing. As they began to sing, our school’s music director moved her hands and arms, coaxing harmony from even the most reluctant teen singers.
Later, each grad gave their parents a flower and little note. “Thank you for the gift of love each day,” it read. “I don’t say it enough,” but “I love you.”
Are you crying? asked our middle daughter.
No, I said, as I wiped away my tears.

No comments: