as if the first day of school isn’t bittersweet enough; we lament the end of summer and her long, sweet days. the delve back into school and routine and strict time constraints and commitments. that swift passage of time, and recognizing that just when you blinked your eyes, another year, another grade, has come upon you like a runaway train. they call it, at least in our waldorf-inspired school, “the handing over ceremony”. each first grader is welcomed to the family, the village if you will, that is our school community. and it’s all very lovely, what with the sing-songing teachers calling the name of each new member of the first grade, the rest of the school looking on. his big brother, who was JUST THERE, smiling at him from his tall fourth grade chair.
and they call his name first, and he moves forward to accept the flower from his young and pretty teacher; and she will see him more waking hours than i do during the week. and he will call her name when he’s afraid, or hurt, or confused, or simply wants to know more about the world or how things work. and the parenting of strangers suddenly influences what he knows, as it seeps out of the children surrounding him, and the words of his peers nearly become his gospel. and i stop becoming his main influence. and he stops becoming mostly mine. mine.
that morning the first thing he muttered was, “i can’t believe i won’t see you for SIX HOURS.” and then, “do you feel nervous, buddy?”, met with, “um i’m REALLY nervous”. honesty.
and so i get to sit at the front during this “handing over”, armed with my camera and thankful that it buys me the nearness…that i get to sit right behind him because i’ve promised the principle photos of the gathering. but i’m not ready when they call his name, my eyes already glassed with grief, and then he’s sitting right before me, clutching his flower and wondering how this will all unfold, while i’m wondering the same thing. and he turns with this look…full of nerves and excitement and total unknowing, but faith that it will all be fine. and i will try with all my might to glean some of that faith. that what we’ve taught him thus far will carry him through. that the world will keep looking full of hope and beauty to him, and that the harsh realities will only trickle in when he’s ready. and honestly, i’m not ready for one minute to hand either of them over to anyone at all. and they have to teach me to be brave, to have some faith, and to trust that it will all tell a very happy story in the end.