The following isn’t about the end of my teaching year but the end of my career as a homeschool mom. I wrote this when my youngest was 17 years old. She’s now almost 30, but the feelings are just as strong.
The end of the school year is fast approaching, and many of us believe it cannot get here soon enough. Others might be graduating students this year and are hit with feelings of pride and grief. I want to share an end-of-school-year “whew!” moment that I experienced. Has this been your experience as well?
Here’s what I wrote when my daughter was finishing her junior year:
I was not prepared. No one warned me about it.
It was the end of school, and I was sitting in front of my bookcases, pulling books off the shelves for the annual homeschool book sale, when a strange and unexpected emotion hit me: grief.
I can’t get rid of this book, I thought; the kids and I have done so many of these experiments together in the kitchen.
I put it back and pulled another book from the shelf.
I can’t get rid of this one either! I moaned. We used to run to this book to identify the birds around our birdfeeders.
I looked at the tiny pile of books on the floor that I’d managed to weed out for the sale. Maybe it’s the books, I thought. I’ll see if I can let go of some of our school supplies or science equipment.
I couldn’t. The same thing happened there, too. My youngest will be a senior next year, so I do not need the 4’ x 5’ blackboard that is taking up a huge amount of wall space in our school room, which will soon not be a school room but a . . . well, I don’t know what yet.
But when I stood in front of that blackboard, all I could think of were the many math problems, Spanish verb conjugations, English grammar sentences, and science notes my three children and I had labored over together. I have a picture of two of my curly-haired kids standing in front of that board on the first day of school eight years ago with “Good bye, summer. Hello, pizza!” scrawled in colorful chalk in childish handwriting. It was our tradition to have a pizza dinner the night of our first day of school. And besides, who knows if one of the children will want the board for their own school at home someday.
I have large boxes in the garage that contain elementary and high school texts and workbooks that I have saved through the years in anticipation of the bizarre day when one of my grown children will call me up from Wyoming or Fiji and ask me, “Hey, Mom, I’m feeling nostalgic about school. Do you have any algebra texts that me and Little Danny could, you know, work through and bond with? I know he’s only eight, but he’s so smart—like I was.” And in this fantasy world, I will smile past the bad grammar and the braggadocio and whip out my Saxon Algebra 1 text—complete with workbook, tests, and answer key—that I’d been saving for just such an occasion as this. And my heart will be warmed.
As my children and I had labored together, I had been unaware of the bonds we were making between parent, child, and school item. I did not know that the children were infusing certain articles with an emotion I would find hard to name even as I sat there years later, thinning my bookcases for the sale. No one warned me that each object I touched would also have the power to fill me with squishy memories of the children and of our many happy, productive days together.
No, I was not prepared.
It was a box-of-tissue kind of day.
Yours for a more squishy homeschool,
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Sharon Watson
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