Grade school graduation just the beginning


Ah June — the hum of valedictory speeches is in the air and mortarboards take flight. We have been invited to celebrate this auspicious milestone with a number of high school graduates this year.

Mixed feelings

I imagine the parents of all these high school graduates are both thrilled and somewhat confused. Where is that little kid with the lunchbox and construction paper hearts? The science project volcano and Civil War diorama fashioned out of a shoebox and felt? How did 13 years of school go by in the blink of an eye?

Like all overly sentimental “sappy moms” I console myself with the fact that my children are young and I have ages before I have to worry about such things.

Then I watched my son at a recent graduation party, enamored of the “big kids” and basking in their glow, and realized that, Lord willing, his graduation will be upon us in the blink of an eye.

I started worrying that I should have reserved extra chairs and ordered a cake already. I barely coped with watching our youngest graduate from elementary school recently. High school might be my undoing.

When our firstborn was still a babe in arms I fretted about how I would ever put him on that big yellow school bus and send him away? All I knew about elementary school was based on my own fading memories of the place.

What if?

Like all thoroughly modern mommies, I read a lot of parenting publications and worried about bullies and hazing and how one wrong move could leave a kid branded for life as a nose-picker or paste eater.

What if someone bullied him? Why, I’d just have to slay the bully with my bare hands and suspected that was probably not the way to make friends on the PTA.

All too soon, the day actually came and my fears were alleviated by the fact that he was far too excited about school to spare a second be scared. As his mother I had learned to fake my own “so not scared here buddy!” face pretty well by then myself.

It was honed during the obligatory series of scrapes, stitches, near-misses and inoculations of the first five years of his life, so I had the ability to give a hearty thumbs-up to just about anything even if I was secretly dying inside.

Time – and children – march on and one year later our younger child would join her brother, walking through those doors to elementary with short legs, big dreams, and a Dora the Explorer lunchbox.

Better than expected

We would spend six glorious years in elementary school and in those six years we didn’t meet many bullies or paste eaters, but we did meet many wonderful, talented people.

We met teachers who not only taught reading, but a love of reading, inspiring third and fourth graders to breathlessly await the next installment from their favorite author (to even have a favorite author!). Certainly a lifelong gift long after the last textbook has been closed.

We met teachers who bravely staged “bring your pet to school day” — in farm country. Bird dogs and chickens and steers — oh my! We met teachers who never taught either child, but always had a kind smile and encouraging words when we saw them, whether in the hallway or the grocery store.

In doing so, they sent the invaluable message that the entire community is watching you — and watching out for you — always. It pays not be that nose-picker (or ne’er do well) that mommy warned you about.

Not really mean

We met teachers, who we were told, “are sometimes mean but only when we’re bad.” I am grateful for “mean” teachers who have the gumption and foresight to be strict when needed.

Self-control and discipline are lifelong skills that may not be assessed on a state test, but are certainly crucial nonetheless.

We met volunteers who showed up year in and year out to make our school a better place. HOST Mentors (Help One Student Succeed) tutored our son when, at 6, he struggled with spelling.

Six years later, that kindergartener grew into the fifth grader who placed in the county-wide spelling bee.

Finally, I met teachers — and two principals — who got stuck with a parent with a byline and lived to tell the tale. Six years, five grades, two kids. Innumerable show and tells, a handful of playground scrapes, 10 class programs, and too many PTO meetings to count.

Not over yet

It’s hard to believe it’s really over. But it’s not — not really. We’ve only just begun. As we graduate into “middle school,” I suspect the next few years will fly by in the blink of an eye, too.

I’m going to be a good student, pay attention, and take good notes. I wouldn’t want to miss a thing.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt misses kindergarten. She welcomes comments c/o; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or

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