Clothes, books, photos – these items define who we are or, more accurately, who we were at specific times in our lives. And nothing defines us quite like our own writing.
Sorting through piles of school papers, I see a little boy become a young man as childish block letters forming simple declarative sentences filled with creative spelling choices slowly morph into neatly typed pages of well-constructed phrases and descriptive paragraphs, proving that my teenager truly does have critical thinking skills. Even if he cannot comprehend that our coffee table is not in fact a dishwasher.
Now that my 16-year-old son is a rising high school senior, it makes me melancholy to realize that my days as a public school parent are nearly over. Squeezing into tiny chairs at Back-to-School Night, navigating the tumultuous middle school years in partnership with supportive teachers and administrators, applauding long and loud for my son and his cast mates as they perform in a statewide One Act Festival — it’s hard to believe that these snapshots of his public school years are already just memories.
Cleaning out the basement one night, I find my own senior yearbook buried at the bottom of an overstuffed box pushed to the back of a dark closet. Besides reminding me that feathered hair was indeed gender indiscriminate, the pages bring back how strongly I believed then that my school years were nothing more than a prelude to my real life. Now, of course, I know better. Those years were formative ones, providing my classmates and me with an academic and social foundation, helping to shape the adults we would eventually become.
In just a few weeks, I get to relive the last year of high school, albeit from a different vantage point and with a tad more wisdom. Rather than wishing for time to fly by as I did way back when, I’m planning to savor my son’s senior year. And, although I’ll soon officially be known as a community resident rather than a district parent, I’ll always feel a connection to the school system that has played such a crucial role in our family’s life.
So while I’m ready to let go of some old clothes and books, I’ll carry one special box of schoolwork into our new home. That decision is an easy one.