The year is winding down and our last full day of school is tomorrow. We are ready. So very ready. The kids are aching to play outside, I am ready to stroll through the Farmers’ Market, and I think all of us are ready for ferry rides and afternoon lunches at Doc’s.
And yet, this change in routine, as welcome as it is, makes me a bit sad. It’s another year done and in the books. January may have been the new year to most of the world, but when your entire family is in school on a daily basis, new years tend to run August to June.
It isn’t quite a new year (that will come in August), but it is the end of the current year. Noah and Sophie will occupy that never-quite-certain space between grade levels. Definitely not third and first graders anymore, and not yet fourth and second graders.
Noah came into his own this year. We see his mischievous smile appear more, his sense of humor equally annoying and remarkably funny. I like hanging out with my boy because I like who he is as a person now. We share a love of books and writing, but I know that like Paul, sports, and baseball in particular, own his heart. He’s quick with facts and numbers but is also sensitive to others’ feelings. He’s an amazing big brother. Somehow he managed to bring all of that together this year.
Sophie and I weathered a bit of a rough year. Perhaps it is difficult to understand, but teaching next door to your daughter is a dream and nightmare all in one. I love getting to see her constantly, and at the same time, I have to see her constantly. Seven year olds are exhausting and I am in that world non-stop. In spite of our struggles (and quite possibly because of them), Sophie found her voice this year. She has learned to assert herself, passionately arguing for everything she believes in from a later bedtime to caring for Mumbai’s street dogs. She writes like nobody’s business, her words eerily similar to the read-alouds we spent so much time sharing each day. I am in awe of the way my girl can articulate who she is and what she wants at such a young age. Sophie found her voice this year. Most days I am still searching for mine.
Then there’s my Stella. One month away from her third birthday. Stella is a cliche baby of the family. She keeps us in stitches and gets away with murder. This year she awakened to the world outside of herself. She asks questions constantly, with her words carefully chosen and reflective of her understanding. We hear “why” a zillion times a day. Stella isn’t content take the world as it is presented-she needs to breathe it in and absorb it. Analyze it and exhale it. This year Stella learned to share her interpretation of the world with us.
It’s kind of funny that we send our children to school to learn to read and write, add and subtract, and yet when I go to write about their accomplishments at the end of the year there is hardly a mention of those things?
Those things come of course. However, my lasting memories of the year are about the people they’ve become. There is no grade for that. No worksheet or teacher comment can capture these changes.
And so, when they come home with piles of projects and papers and I am tempted to treasure and frame each one, I try to remember that the true and enduring work of the year is already preserved right in front of me.
And for that I am grateful.