Friday, June 7, 2013

School's Out

The end of the school year is always a whirl, this one seemed especially so. Finally we've reached summer vacation. Yesterday Roscoe the Graduate walked upstairs in the late morning sort of befuddled because he had Nothing. To. Do. That big backpack of papers, that planner could just be tossed.

I always approach summer with fear and trembling--How will I get anything done??--and then quickly remember how luxurious it feels to live days at our own pace instead of by the tyranny of the school bell. And I think of so many things I want to teach/work on with the kids when I have them to myself (not the least of which being how to quit being such grumpy whiners and obey your mother and play nicely with your siblings). But in the fear and trembling phase I can never remember exactly how I transition into the luxurious phase. Sort of like the transition phase in labor?

So to recap, here are some of our springtime happenings:

Piano Recital

Levi and Haley are both becoming accomplished pianists and performed perfectly at the annual recital. Haley performed Spy Song, a piece of her own composition. Levi played a jaunty waltz. Because he was nervous, he started it off at a fast pace and I was nervous he wouldn't be able to keep it up. But he did!

Children playing the piano makes me feel like all my dreams as a mother are coming true.

9th Grade Graduation

Logan lobbied hard to skip this little event, and I almost gave in. I think we're both glad he took the opportunity to mark this chapter with his friends.

Oh I love this blurry little pic. Walking down from receiving his "diploma." What a handsome actor.
My favorite part was the speech given by his student body president--who seriously, watch for him, may grow up to rule the world. He described how intimidated each of them felt when they started middle school and how they made friends and rose to the top of the heap, and how they'd be starting the same process again as high schoolers. His closing line: "We did it once; we can do it again!"

Cub Scout Advancement

That same night, Levi walked the bridge from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. And of course, he did it with cheer and panache.

Isn't he a doll?
The best part? When they passed out pinewood derby cars for next month's pack meeting and we didn't get one! A whole year of no Cub Scouts for me!

High School Graduation

I told the kids it would be long and boring. But their little hearts trembled with fear when it took a full half hour for the graduates to march into the arena four-by-four. There was some beautiful music and a wonderful speeches from one of Roscoe's cohorts with autism and one who endured a terrible car accident last year.
The distinguished graduate...

...and his bling.
I have to say, I'm relieved Roscoe is done with high school. He had some great experiences, learned some great things, and put on some truly great performances. But the pressure was so high, the workload so relentless, the competition so stiff. Let's just say I'm looking forward to Roscoe moving on to bigger, better, more uplifting things.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Paen to Ms K and Ms Z

Today was the very last day of Jesse's second year of kindergarten. His class aide, Ms K, held his hand and walked him to the door to meet me. After he walked away from her, she called his name. When he looked back, she crossed her arms over her heart, then pointed to him. Ms K loves Jesse. And oh my does Jesse love Ms K.
Jesse and Betsy on their last day as the stay-at-home lunch buddies.
Two years ago, I wasn't sure if I would send Jesse to kindergarten at all. I knew he wasn't ready. I met with the school's staff in the spring and they encouraged me to enroll him, assured me that they adjusted to each student. So I did.

When the school year began, I still wasn't sure I had made the right choice. Jesse often had to be dragged out of my car by the teacher. He wasn't at all equipped to learn the kindergarten curriculum. The teacher was pretty strict and demanding. But early in the year, I brought Jesse to some after-school activity. As we walked down the hall toward his classroom, we could see his teacher standing in the doorway. When Jesse saw Ms Z, he broke loose from me, ran down the hall, and he and his teacher wrapped their arms around each other. That's when I knew Jesse would be okay in kindergarten.

Two years later, here's Jesse with his teachers:

See that smile on Jesse's face? That's a special brand of smile we see only a certain moments. Like, for example, nights when he's having a hard time falling asleep and is invited into his parents' bed to snuggle in that sweet spot in the middle. Apparently, he also feels that same sense of peace, cozy, and love when standing between his teachers.

Each day for the last two years, I know Jesse has made Ms Z and Ms K's jobs harder. Some days, much harder. Some teachers would have felt frustration and eventually resentment toward him. But these two never did.

In my experience, successful elementary school teachers fall into two categories. The Administrators get their students to learn by monitoring and planning and regimenting every move their students make. The Nurturers forego discipline and organization. But they love their students so completely that the students will do anything--walk on water, learn the alphabet, speak Swahili--just to please them. These teachers were the best of both worlds. They held high expectations. They were demanding and tough. They stretched and pushed him. But they loved him to bits. And for that, I am eternally grateful.