The Last Days

Ten years. A decade my kids have been going to school. And up until the last year, it was a central part of my life. I’m the morning parent: get kids up, shepherd them through breakfast and lunch-making, get them out the door. And until four years ago, it was also taking them to school: first Monkey, then Choo Choo.

Choo Choo, you now are taller than Mommy, and as much as your sister demands otherwise, you’re taller than her, too. You’ve grown so much in the last three years, not only physically but also socially. I look back at the pictures of you when you turned one year old and you are so very much a different child than back then. I mean, you’re still often a walking disaster (if just for the scattered socks that I find everywhere), but I would certainly struggle to see you as the same cute, adorable child of yore (nor would you even tolerate me saying that, these days) – you’re whip-smart, more than a little devious, and have an insightful wisdom someone your age shouldn’t have.

And today is your last day of elementary school. When you walk away from Escuela Glenmeadows today, it’ll be the last time you’ll be there as a student. Like your sister, your mother, and myself, you’ll start to look back on your elementary years with a very different perspective. You might even consider it more fondly than you do today, though I suspect a couple of your former teachers will remain in the pantheon of Detested Individuals.

As a family, it’s our last day of elementary, as well, which I’m very thankful for. We’ve struggled the last few years, as have many families, as no-one was prepared for remote education and the school was simply not set up to manage it well (for that, we can blame both the Board of Education for lack of support and the school itself because of how it’s managed). But this last year has been a particularly trying one, notably as Mommy has run against your school’s administration who have been anything but reasonable or helpful in supporting a Grade 6 graduation celebration.

For you, Monkey, it’s even more poignant. Months ago, you decided that it was time to leave the Spanish Bilingual program. To be fair, that the Calgary Board of Education is actively trying to kill the program by making it less and less accessible is a factor, forcing you to take 90 minutes of transit to get to school just isn’t reasonable. And most of your friends are in similar thoughts, it seems, as nearly all of them are leaving the program.

But where we live, it’s even more complex. Most of your friends are off to Central Memorial High School. Our catchment places you at Ernest Manning High School, with precious few of the friends you’ve made over the years. It’s going to be hard, being so distanced from everyone you’ve been with for a decade, some even longer. I know, personally, the feeling of leaving so many behind, possibly to never see them again.

But you’re strong. You’re stronger than you know, and I’m so immensely proud of the things you’ve done, of the place you’re taking in our world, of your voice and your beliefs (though I do admit they need a bit of tempering, you have your father’s Know-It-All-ism).

It’s a big year for all of us, we’re growing out of our “young” years as a family. It’s going to be an interesting next three years as the both of you graduate again to the next levels of life. None of us are prepared for this, but then who really ever is?

If nothing, it’ll be an adventure.