A car horn blasted loud and long. It was followed by another, someone screaming, then … was that a foghorn? I raced from the back of my house to investigate the commotion, flung open the front door and was greeted by a street full of teens cheering from slowly moving cars. Colorful window decorations announced “CLASS OF 2014.”
Nine months ago this school year’s traditions began like every other in our house. The kids posed and faked — or not — a smile for our official first-day-of-school picture taken on the front porch. Each year they have sported new outfits and held pristine backpacks filled with sharp pencils and crisp folders.
Our last day of school celebration isn’t nearly as well photographed. The pencils are worn down to stubs (if they can find one at all), the clothes are now used and the backpacks are grungy with mystery stains. Each year we sit on the porch, squeak our straws into large Styrofoam cups filled with slushes or shakes, and dream big about summer plans.
“No more homework!”
“I can sleep in every day!”
“Mom, can we go …” and we begin to list the things we want to do over the summer months.
When I was younger I used to think of the school year in two parts: Fun and Draggy. The first half was fun, everyone was still on their best behavior, and things were new and exciting. Just as days became routine …. Boom! Halloween followed by a short skip to Thanksgiving, merriment to Christmas, and a gloriously winter-antic-filled time away from school that ended with a new year full of possibilities.
The next few months would traditionally drag. There wasn’t much time off from days spent with people who had shed their formal behavior in favor of pushing buttons and painfully filterless talk. It was a time of clocks turning backwards and hours that felt like months until birds would sing as the calendar flipped to June.
The senior class parade of cars is a tradition in my town. Watching it reminded me of that feeling of freedom.
I have yet to be a parent of a kid in one of those cars, but I hear it from others each year as they emotionally prepare and recover from watching their children cross stages wearing caps and gowns in school colors.
“Where did the time go?”
Before I am caught up in the emotion on a personal level, maybe I can answer that objectively:
It passed with the long preschool years when each milestone was anticipated and celebrated, when traditions began.
It passed with monthly trips to the doctor because learning to share isn’t always good.
It passed in funny things they said that we meant to write down but never did.
It passed in scene after scene of the production “Twists and Turns of Parenting.”
It passed as one season of sports seamlessly morphed into another.
It passed in lost teeth, painfully learned life lessons and hard-earned awards.
It passed in a parade of Best Teacher Ever, You Did What to Whom? and Don’t Make Me Go to School Today.
It passed in years of sandwiches, chicken patties and birthday cakes.
It passed in days that flew by because they looked an awful lot like the one before, and days that vividly stand out in our mind’s eye because we had never seen that before.
It passed in years of victories and losses.
It passed in first-day-of-school pictures and last-day-of-school celebrations.
It passed to become new traditions.
Congratulations to the Class of 2014.
Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.