Ah, the end of the school year. Feelings of accomplishment, joy and relief as you close the page on another chapter of life. Those memories bring a sense of peace and nostalgic gratitude now that school is oh so long behind me. Summer. Sleeping in. Pools. Discover Zone with my little bro every day. HOORAY to the end of the school year!
This Tuesday my first born baby participated in her first official graduation. Chalk it up! Pre-school… done.
In February, as do most eager parents, Traci and I toured the school Addison will soon be attending Kindergarten. Walked through the large cavernous halls, heard the standard surface level and over rehearsed welcome lines and even peered into a few colorful classrooms. After leaving the elementary school Traci expressed her fear in how that her baby (mine if she’s acting tooty) is going to be so little inside the huge school. It is indeed crazy how fast your kids grow up and the thought of them attending a “real” school often overwhelming and frightening. Is her teacher nice? What are you gonna do if someone pushes my girl? Is she really gonna climb that many stairs? etcetera.
Addison had been talking up the day she would graduate from her class as does any student anticipating the next chapter of life. She would come home from class talking (non-stop and also not unusual) about the songs she was going to sing for us in the ceremony. She also asked us multiple times if we would be proud of her and pointed the question of “Are you gonna cry?” to Traci, to which she responded “Probably!”
Tuesday we had it all planned out. I was going to take a super long lunch, meet Traci, Grandma, Memaw and Jen at the school for the 12 o’clock commencement exercise. Upon arrival we crowded into a little picket fence corral and awkwardly awaited the start. The announcement was given that we were going to wait till all family members who were planning to be there arrived before they would let the kiddos loose. A few times the question was asked “Is every family member here?” to which Traci and I looked at each other with sadness knowing how much all of us wished Poppy was in attendance with us that day. Once all family members arrived the tiny, insufficient CD player was cued and the march to the customary Pomp & Circumstance began.
Down the hall behind us trotted about 15 little munchkins adorning frog shaped baseball caps and custom, craft-time created t-shirts. My eldest offspring, one of the last in line, made it to her assigned mark on the floor and then made eye contact with the front row filled with her adoring fans both parties excited for this occasion.
With a smile produced by proud yet shy emotions, Addi’s, Traci’s and even my eyes began to tear up. Addi even had to use her paint blotted t-shirt to dry her cheeks. So precious. The school owner was addressing the audience with a speech of thankfulness for us lending them our children. Her voice became more and more distant as I felt the same of how God has lent this little one to us. We exchanged a ton of smiles and even a few small waves throughout the introduction.
The service continued with a couple cute songs with motions, obviously to reassure all attending parents that their dollars went to more than play time and Dora. Songs about numbers, phonics, and just plain silly songs made the playlist. Many children mumbled along, some sang in great participation and one decided he’d rather throw his frog hat around the staging area guaranteeing him some “time-out when we get home.” Of course our eyes and ears were focused on our little porcelin doll as she was on it! Every word. SPOT ON! Every motion. SPOT ON! Proud indeed.
Moving on through the ceremony it was diploma time. The class teacher (our’s being the sweet Ms. Heidi) would call the student to come forward and step up onto a bathroom stool for all to see. Addi’s name was called and she walked into place, climbed the tiny step stool and was handed her diploma. With this, Ms. Heidi read the diploma which asked the question of what they wanted to be when they grow up. “When Addison grows up, she wants to be a runner.”, Ms. Heidi said with her perfect teacher inflection. Addi’s semi posed smile remained. Precious.
After the 64 song ceremony, everyone hugged their kiddos and took pics to freeze yet another memory in time. I had picked up a single rose on the way to the school to give to her. After a hug I proceeded to give it to her to which she responded, “Daddy, oh wow! Why is the stem so long? We are going to need to cut it. Oh Wow. It’s beautiful.” all in her typical one breath complete and over-compounded sentence. [gee, i wonder where she gets that from] We took some pics, the girls drank some punch and ate a cookie and then we headed out the door to our next destination. A celebratory Chuy’s lunch was in order.
While sitting there at lunch that day I couldn’t help but think of the days we were still awaiting little Addi’s arrival and one specific memory came to mind. When Traci and I told her parents that they were going to be grandparents I remember receiving a call from Traci’s dad that day telling me that they were on there way that night to have some “celebratory nachos” at their Quitman Mexican restaurant. Ironically over 5 years later, in honor of my special little girl’s pre-shool graduation, another passage in her tiny life, we had celebratory nachos.
The next chapter begins for her early this fall. With this new challenge she will face uncertainty, fear and ultimately a chance to grow. She looks to us for guidance. She looks for us for strength. Her little blue eyes are attentively focused on how we live and who we really are, how we face our very own challenges. She looks to us to show her value and to model what she wants to be. Her ideology of a husband and a father are based on me and my leadership. What an daunting and delightful responsibility. I am so thankful for who she is, what she has already learned and how she has grown. Thank you God for lending her to us.
One wreck of a daddy.