This morning, my daughter caught the middle school bus for the last time. She’ll return barely four hours later (early release at 10:20, classes twelve minutes long.) I packed her last eighth grade lunch yesterday (no more washing of the thermos and tupperware salad containers for a couple of months). Actual school work, of course, ended a while ago. The final week is a mere formality, a period loosely filled with awards ceremonies, desk and locker cleanings, movie-watching, yearbook signings, and saying goodbye.
It’s hard to believe that all those highly anticipated school events requiring so much preparation are now in the past. Guys and Dolls, in which D played the faithful Mission girl, Agatha, is ancient history. The music department’s competition at Busch Gardens: barely visible in the rearview mirror. The same goes for Mayfest Playfest, a day of short plays written and performed by local middle schoolers throughout the county. Standards of Learning exams in reading, geometry, civics and science: duly completed and scored. (Eight years ago, when D began elementary school and we first heard of the SOLs, my husband found the acronym hilarious.) The eighth grade dance: over. Year-long projects: researched, written, presented, evaluated and returned. Exams: completed and graded. End-of-year orchestra concert (featuring a beautiful rendition of I Dreamed a Dream): it’s history. The final, quite comical performance by the drama class (30 Reasons Not to be in a Play): c’est finit.
When D returns home very shortly, she’ll be accompanied by a crowd of friends. I’ll drive them to the pool, and summer will begin.
When school resumes in the fall, our only child, our baby, will be a high schooler. H and I graduate to another, if not more mature, then at least more elderly parenting bracket.
Seventy-six days of summer stretch out before us. Once, ages ago, that sounded like an eternity to me. Now I know how quickly the season will pass. Every year, I vow to appreciate these precious days, to relish each one for what it brings. I don’t really like the expression, but I’ll use it anyway: I’ll try to be present for these fleeting days of summer. They will vanish in a flash, as always. We’ve been waiting in line 180 days for our turn on summer’s roller coaster. The cars are pulling up, and soon we’ll be inching up that first hill. This season, I will pay attention and enjoy the ride. I hope you do, as well!