So I've been grumbling for weeks about the hoopla surrounding the 5th grade promotion at our school. I will admit some eye rolling and dismissing this as much ado about nothing. It seems that each of these shindigs I've attended gets more involved and more elaborate as the years go on. Even the night before the "big day" after I had opened the 437th email about it, I sat with some friends and said something along the lines of, "I'm not all that emotional about it. I've been through the video with the sappy songs two times before. I mean, it's not as if they're going to war. I'll be fine."
Well, now. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
The next day I dropped Drew off at Little River Elementary School for the last time. A school where I first dropped off one of my own over a decade ago. A school where probably 75% of kindergartners enter the halls saying they go to Wittle Wivah. A school where I've attended two other 5th grade promotions without too many tears because, please. They're simply going a mile down the road to the middle school.
And yet, as Drew opened the car door to get out on Monday morning, with absolutely no warning, I felt tears fill my eyes and my face contort into a full on ugly cry. Oh, those poor little fourth graders practicing to be carpool patrols. They must have been rethinking their new positions, wondering, "What is wrong with her face?"
This is what was wrong with my face. The littlest one? He is not supposed to be doing this. This getting big thing. No, he is not supposed to.
We are supposed to be sitting on the couch watching Curious George and then Sid the Science Kid while the big brothers walk to Wittle Wivah. Then we are supposed to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Go, Dog, Go a few thousand times. Then we're supposed to decide we should change out of our pjs to go run errands with my massive supply of Dum-Dum lollipops to keep him occupied. We are supposed to meet friends for lunch at Moe's where we will get the Kids Quesadilla and a fruit punch which will definitely spill all over the place.
I cried so hard on the way home from that drop off that one of my contacts came out. I cried so hard thinking about what was supposed to be and wondering how I could stop time and make it not be this. This ridiculously quick passage of time that flew by me launching the boy who was always the little one into being one of the bigger ones. He was the one that allowed me to keep one foot in the elementary school even while my other foot was busy with contemplating AP courses and college GPA requirements. It happened just exactly like everyone said it would.
Except, I know so acutely and unfortunately, that what is not supposed to be is my wishing away of the passage of time. This lamenting that my child is growing and looking toward lockers and changing classes and no more holiday parties? This need I feel to halt his growing up? Yes, it is a natural feeling, but in essence this is a resistance of the future of my child. And that is what is not supposed to be. I've been reminded of this fact much too often recently.
This. This ending of one phase. This promise of the next. This fear I have that he might not stay the golden boy he has been. This is exactly what is supposed to happen. This is what I should celebrate with arms wide open and fervent whispered prayers of "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, gracious God."
I remembered this because after the 5th grade promotion ceremony, I had to hustle home to get ready for another ceremony. That would be the Celebration of Life service for a 12 year old boy who fought cancer for seven of his twelve years. That boy's mama was able to see her son promoted from 5th to 6th grade almost a year ago to the day that she buried him. Now that right there? Even though I know that I am not in control of this universe and even though I know that one day all these heartbreaking mysteries will be revealed? Well, that right there is what feels like it shouldn't be. That is something worthy of lamenting.
So this is what I think. I think it is sort of ridiculous to celebrate every darn thing that a child does as if it was the biggest and best thing ever. I am fully in the tank against my child believing that every move he makes deserves an award, a party or a certificate. But today, contemplating the fact that I sat through a 5th grade promotion and a high school graduation and the funeral of a child all within two days, I wonder, why not? Why not celebrate the fire out of every single moment?
We can cry because it's hard to have our babies grow up. It's hard to know that the snuggles on the couch and the carefree days of learning their shapes and colors are behind us. But, if we are blessed enough to see days in front of our children, we need to dry those tears and do a happy dance. We need them to grow up and live and dream and become eye rolling, mouthy adolescents who make us want to tear our hair out.
As I walked out of that church, I shook my head in disbelief. I find it incomprehensible that for whatever amazingly gracious reason I keep seeing these moments come and go for my children and me. I don't understand why other children have been taken so early. And I know down deep that I have no idea if I will see the day that one of mine is taken. I will never understand it, but I believe in the One who does and I believe in His love for us no matter how many days we are given. So with the knowledge that these milestones are not promised, I decided that I would get all choked up and go into the ugly cry and at least for this week, I would act like the 5th Grade Promotion was a big ol' giant deal.
So, stay gold, Ponyboy. Or don't. Just keep growing, little love. Keep moving on. Keep giving me the opportunity to welcome you home like I did when you bounded off that school bus from the first day of kindergarten. Where ever you may go and whenever you may return, today I will not mourn the passage of time. Today I will remember that for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. And I will weep and laugh and mourn and dance. And I will say again and again and again, "Thank You, God, for this moment. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You."