On the last day of school, it is tradition to clap out the sixth grade class. The other classes K – 5th make a path/tunnel for the 6th grade to walk through as they leave the school for the last time as students. The parents were invited to participate as well, extending the tunnel for the final stretch to the parking lot. As everyone was gathering, I listened to the parents talking and realized many of us were feeling the same bitter sweetness of the moment. One mom volunteered that she had tissues if anyone needed them and even though we all laughed, we knew she was more prepared for this than the rest of us. I expected the students to be excited, hyper, loud and maybe even just a little rowdy, as they walked down the pathway. However, as they began to walk by, they were all a lot more subdued than I expected. Even though they had smiles on their faces, you could tell that they too felt the sadness of having to say good-bye. For many of them this is the only school they’ve ever known and this is the first big transition they are going to make in their lives.
It’s a transition for us as parents as well. I know that part of my sadness over leaving elementary school is also coupled with worry on what is coming next. In elementary school there is innocence and ease. With junior high comes a new level of social changes and challenges. School work will get harder, but so will everything else, including relationships with friends, parents and the beginning of romantic relationships. I also realized that she only has six years left of school before she leaves for college. Six years in that context does not seem like a long time at all.
I realize that change is constant, but this time around I’m going to handle it a little differently. Summer gives us the perfect opportunity to honor this time of transition. We can take the time we need to reflect and appreciate all of the wonderful experiences we’ve had over the years. We can also take the time to open up the dialogue of what is to come. We can tune into our kids to see where they are at – are they nervous? Excited? Anxious? Take the time now to talk about topics and situations before they happen, before both of you are in the height of the emotion dealing with the issue when it occurs. It is your chance to connect with your child when they are most receptive to you, without all the other distractions, demands and stresses that the school year holds. We are always really good at celebrating the end of things and gearing up for new beginnings, but this summer let’s take the time to appreciate the beauty that can happen during the transition.
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