After Spring Break I came to the equally delightful and horrifying realization that my baby was in her last few weeks of elementary school. I started sneakily snapping pictures as she was leaving for school in an attempt to chronicle the mundane, everyday task that was leading to this momentous event. The task that would cease forever, morphing into leaving for middle school each morning in August.
But all I turned out were these blurry images of her whisking away into her day. (This has nothing to do with the fact these images were taken pre-coffee, I am certain.) Grainy, unfocused, ghostly images chronicling the passage of time.
The images are a little like a fall day ... the ones where first thing in the morning when you step outside you can see your breath, just a little, but later in the day, you've long ago shed your sweater and you realize you're getting a little sunburn and it seems like another lifetime when you proclaimed with slight shock "I can see my breath!"
I feel the same way about this week, about this child. Her last week of elementary school. My last child in elementary school. I feel 1,000 years old.
She's a ghost of the girl who when I took her to the kindergarten placement tests proudly proclaimed "I can read chapter books!" (She could, and I promise I did nothing to provoke this.)
A shadow of the kid whose kindergarten assistant teacher relayed (with much amusement) Hadley's story at share time, while the other kids talked about new shoes and soccer games, "this weekend my family is going to Knoxville for a football game ... but we really just go for the tailgating!"
Or when the same teacher found my child in the cafeteria having stabbed a Salisbury steak through the center and gnawing it around the edges like a gravy and meat popsicle. A phantom of the one who would burst with pride when she was the line leader, or had a speaking part in the play, or received a compliment from her teacher on excellent classwork.
But was it really that long ago? Seems like yesterday. Seems like forever.
Her older sister says "you're famous at middle school! Everyone knows you, even the teachers, even the boys, and they all LOVE you!" (I have a love/hate relationship with this comment.)
But then, somewhere inside the young lady who is now nearly as tall as me, resides that little kindergarten girl. Bursting with pride while doing the fifth-grade version of being the line leader as a member of Safety Patrol and student council. Performing on that same stage with 20 memorized lines in a Shakespeare production, or singing and dancing with her friends in the talent show.
And would you believe, that same kindergarten teacher ... the one who recorded her reading aloud and posted it online ... is one of her fifth grade teachers? And nearly caused that young lady to burst with pride and excitement just last week by complimenting her writing ability and encouraging her to grow this talent? Talk about full circle.
She may be taller. She may pack her own lunch to avoid cafeteria food requiring spearing. Now we share books, passing them back and forth and dissecting them later like a book club for two. I like to believe we're both older ... and wiser.
Let this be known: she can grow to be 6 feet tall and be the leader of the free world if she so chooses. Matters not. She will always be my baby, that little birdie with the bob haircut and big bow, the tiny Chiclets-size teeth and backpack full of well-worn Magic Treehouse books, saying "you know whaaaattttttt?" anytime she needed to buy a little time to fill the silence. (She still does this sometimes.)
It's the nice thing about being a mom. We may forget where we put the car keys, or to pick up the dry cleaning, but we never, ever forget our babies from when they were babies. Even when they do us the wild disservice of growing into lovely, independent young adults heading off to middle school.
Get ready world ... here she comes.