When my now nine year old graduated from preschool I told myself I would remember everything about that last bittersweet day. But of course, as with many milestones, I don't. And so today, on this last day of my five year old's preschool, I vowed to document what happened and how I feel.
This morning I took Zachary to preschool as I have countless times before. I tried not to think about the finality of it. I dropped him off at the door hoping for a nice hug, but he wanted to go running right into the classroom, one sign of many that he will be ready for kindergarten come fall.
As I walked to the car I thought about the busy, fun, sometimes frustrating days that can make up life with small children. The thing is, the days sometimes linger, but the years go faster than I ever thought possible. If you asked me now, I would tell you that Zachary surely only started his preschool journey a few days ago, and yet it has been two years. It went by in a blur but it was, of course, sprinkled with things that matter. There was the first day of letting go, and of realizing we would both survive. There were Christmas programs that made me cry, a lovely Mother's Day Tea, enough art projects to cover 45 refrigerators and a country fair to which Zachary sported an adorable cowboy hat.
Towards the end of the morning I went back to campus early to join Zachary at his school's ice cream social. I looked at him sitting with all his friends and felt so proud. True, he is wild and determined and sometimes can test my patience, but he also is caring, kind and unselfish in many ways. He is not my first to complete preschool, nor will he be my last, but for that I want to make a big production of this day even more. He has accepted with flying colors his spot in the family, sandwiched in-between two special needs brothers. And so, this is his day to shine.
We walked back to the classroom when the treat-eating was done, and too soon the teachers were saying goodbye and sending the children back to us and out into the world. I saw tears in Zachary's eyes as he hugged his teachers, and I paused in the doorway so that I could say farewell to them too. I made it short and sweet; wanting to express more about how wonderful they have been but also not wanting to turn into a sobbing disaster.
Zachary received some bubbles, and so instead of walking straight to the car, I suggested that we stop and use them. He and his little brother took turns blowing them, popping them, and giggling. I thought about how these simple joys were fleeting. I will miss the days when no one at my house delights so easily in non-complicated forms of entertainment.
Finally we ventured to the car and headed for a celebratory lunch. I got a strange feeling as we drove away, knowing Zachary would never again be a student at the preschool, but mostly what I felt was luck at knowing if this experience had helped him grow so much, then surely there are exciting things to come as well. I am ready for the next chapter, which will undoubtably go even faster than the ones preceding. I have tried before to tell time to slow down, but it never listens. All I can hope to do is savor these little moments that build ever so quickly into years of my life.