Saturday, June 3, 2006

Last Day of School

Last week was my daughter’s last day of second grade. We get out of school early here, before Memorial Day. Then after eight weeks off, go back the first week of August. I suspect it stems from the area’s agrarian roots.

My daughter’s teacher is moving to a new school next year, and my daughter is going to be homeschooled while attending enrichment programs in the arts two days a week. Because of this, the only chance she has of seeing her teacher again—who we loved—is running into her at the grocery store.

I was there for the final party. The teacher handed out gift bags for the kids and explained something special inside them. She had included two pins that said “I am loved.” She wanted each of them to know that she loved them and how proud she was of them and that she worried over them. The second pin was for them to give to someone who needed to know they were loved.

All of the adults were teary eyed, and I didn’t think her teacher would get through it. But the kids just watched her as if she were explaining which center they were going to next or where they needed to put their chairs.

While most of these kids knew they wouldn’t see their teacher again, it didn’t seem to bother them. My daughter did cry while she wrote her teacher a thank you note. And she said her teacher cried when she read it. But she’s more sensitive than most. And even at that, she wasn’t upset when it was time to leave school for the last time.

Which got me to thinking. I don’t remember being particularly upset the last day of school or feeling like I was going to miss my teachers. In fact, I can only remember two “last days of school” while I was in elementary school. Part of that may have been because I went to a small neighborhood school, and I knew I’d see my teachers in the store over the summer and certainly at school next year. Mostly I was glad for the break. It really wasn’t until high school ended that I knew that no matter how hard we tried and vowed to keep in touch, I would never see most of my classmates again.

So what is it about life that makes the endings more bittersweet for adults? At our age we’ve been through enough of them that we should expect them as the course of life. Some people we encounter only for a season and then move on, but our lives are richer for the experience. It has happened before, and it will happen again. If anything, I would think this repeated experience would make us more pragmatic than our children, most of whom are experiencing this situation for one of the first times in their lives.

Maybe it’s because they haven’t experienced these partings before that they don’t know what it’s like to remember someone fondly, to have regrets that we didn’t say or do more, to wish a season could be longer—or sometimes shorter. Maybe it just hasn’t hit them yet what they will be missing.

What about you? Do you remember your last days of school? Which ones stand out the most?

By the way--and completely off the subject--I did find the perfect shoes for that dress. And on a sad note, my Mac is back in the shop. Like me, it's losing its memory. Sigh.


  1. I'm one of those sappy people who can hardly take saying goodbye to someone I care about.

    I had a best friend move away a few years ago and it nearly did me in. Now I have a new friend that will most likely move this year and I'm very sad. Sniff Sniff. So I can totally relate to your soft-hearted daughter. =)

    Now school...that was another story. LOL

  2. You know, I've noticed that I'm becoming more and more sensitive as I get older. I never used to cry, and now I cry at the drop of a hat--usually in movies or while reading books. It's totally age!

    I guess it's good. I'd hate to be hardhearted in old age. I know of friends whose parents are just crabby and unpleasant in their senility, while others are happy. I want to be a happy old person, and not a grump.

    Sorry about your computer woes! I can relate, I have a 10-year old Dell laptop that has seizures every so often.


  3. I remember few of my last days of school. The one that stands out is kindergarten, because I had to walk home and my crayons kept falling off the top of my pile.

    How exciting for you to homeschool your daughter next year! It's great that you're starting while she's young, I wish I had been able to do that. Now we're on the opposite end, and next year we're sending my daughter to public high school. **GASP**

  4. Aww, nice post, girl. Sorry to hear about your Mac. :-( That's just sad. Hope you get it back soon, with a brain transplant. :-)

  5. The only last day of school I remember from my own elementary career is second grade--and not for a good reason.

    My mom had bought my sister and me matching outfits. Cute little shorts and tops. My sister was to start school the next fall so we thought I should take her along so she could see what it was like. We were also going to leave for vacation immediately after.

    The first diasater came when I got there a little late (maybe even a lot late as I think about it), baby sister in tow. Then I got all sorts of snickers and "oh-oh"'s because we were wearing shorts. Since I've already admitted my age on my blog I can tell you this was 1964 (I'd already had that deep discussion with my classmates about how cute Paul was and seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.) Shorts in school were a no-no. But it was the last day and I could almost hear my mom saying "So what are they going to do about it, huh?" The outfits were cute, for 1964, and she wasn't about to dress us both in skirts and then have us change before we left town.

    I don't think we were there very long, just long enough for my teacher (a first year teacher--Mrs. Hamilton--so young and pretty) to introduce us to her identical twin and pass out the report cards. But after all these years, I still can hear classmates going, "Oooo, you're gonna get in trouble!" Some things never change. I'm still getting into trouble at school--my principal calls me Trouble-maker:-)

    Abundant blessings!