And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!
It’s graduation season, and our family is no exception. Our baby is in his last two weeks leading up to our Big Goodbye to the school that has been his home since he was 4 years old. The next step is high school, then the week after that, University.
This separation from our familiar, loving school community is one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced, right behind my divorce and the death of my father. My chest is constantly tight, my eyes gritty and aching. Every activity this year – every concert, Grandparent’s Day, musical, sports tournament, and awards banquet is “the last.” The grief is bubbling right below the surface. I’m one kind word and a hug away from sobbing uncontrollably. I’m mighty unattractive when I blubber.
Our son’s school is physically and fiscally connected to our church. We began sending our son to the independent school 11 years ago. Since 2004, almost 80% of his life, the city block at 33rd and Meridian has been the center of our social and spiritual universe. Next year, we will still be attending the church, but we won’t be able to go to his locker after service on Sunday because he forgot to bring home a text book. That school will no longer be “our school.” Here comes a sob…
I’ve been thinking a lot about our son – what defines him, and what kind of person he will become. I firmly believe that it takes a village to raise a child, and there have been many times when another member of the St. Richard’s village has come to the rescue. With two working parents, we’ve sometimes needed help with transportation, and there have always been other parents who could help pick up from school, or drive to a sports practice. That’s not unique to our school though – any healthy school community should foster those relationships.
What is unique, however, it the culture of the school, which has its roots in the Episcopal Church. We have a lot of Anglican traditions that are a fun part of the life of the school, and help form the rich foundations of the children’s character. But deeper still is an “in the bones” respect and appreciation for diversity and the value of the individual. People complement us on our polite son, but we can’t take all the credit. Yes, he is surrounded with love at home. We set limits both on behavior and acquisition of “stuff”. Believe me; he feels the consequences of poor judgment. But there is more in his world that helps shape the person he is becoming.
Our boy is kind, compassionate and intuitive. He’s the type of person who attracts babies and small animals. When he volunteered as a junior counselor at the school’s summer day camp program, the little children hung all over him. He’s fearless, and by that I don’t mean reckless. He asks questions, speaks out against injustice when he sees it and corrects his friends (and sometimes his mother) when he hears unkind comments. On his recent trip to Washington DC, he walked through the crowds outside the Supreme Court of the United States during testimony about same sex marriage discrimination, and later told me some of the things he witnessed. He reported that some of the demonstrators were angry and hateful, and he didn’t understand why. He walked with our parish in the Pride parade last year, and will do so again this June because he believes in justice and wants to make a difference.
I have to credit his school experience for helping teach him so much about kindness, leadership, justice, and courage. He’s had wonderful teachers and loving staff the last 11 years – talented people who know how to interest and engage children. I can count on three fingers the duds in the bunch, and they are no longer with the school. His teachers have loved, nurtured, disciplined as well as taught our boy. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to these people for playing a critical role in his formation.
My deepest respect to those administrators and teachers who gave more to my child than a monetary transaction could explain. Especially the teachers – you affect your students far more than you realize. I’m so glad that you are passionate about teaching, and happy to work in this little urban school.
So I will buck up and keep on course until next Friday. I will finish the 8th grade video, and submit it. I will work, and be billable. I will clean the house and prepare for the arrival of his older sisters the day before the Big Event. I might even buy something new to wear to graduation, even though I hate shopping for clothes. I will attend most of the end of school activities between now and graduation, and suppress the sobs for 9 more days.
But on May 29th beware – the floodgates will open.
*There are so many people at St. Richard’s, and I know I’m forgetting someone: Karen, Kathryn and Kathleen, Colette, Tammie, Kim, Sandi, Deb, Pam, Jeff, Rod, Andrea, Loic, Mary Louise, Jay, Mary Helen, Ann, Sherry, Zach, Ann, Cheryl, Marian, Grace, Maren, Zachary, LeaAnn, Annie and James. I cannot forget David, Barb, Abby, Brad and Carolyn. And Chef Chris, who always gave the boy extra portions when asked.