As I stood in the serpentine line of parents winding our way to the check-in spot at the office, I had the wonderful thought.
I forgot my camera.
I forgot my phone. With its camera.
You’d think a middle-aged crazy woman pumped up on Hormone Replacements would be never forget her camera for a moment such as this.
Well. Shrugged my shoulders and reached out for the door as the nice man, who looked like he probably had his camera, held the door for me. Which I held for the next person.
Walking down the halls of the primary school — probably for the last time (okay it just hit me that I was walking the halls for the last time) — I made it to the library. And managed to find friends to ask if they would take a picture for me.
I struggled with this. Why wasn’t I more emotional? I so loved seeing all those cute faces walking across the carpet. Wondering what path each of them will take in life.
Who will shoot straight like an arrow at their target?
Who will bloom late and flourish?
Who will fall between the cracks and wonder why they sat on the sidelines their entire life?
It’s funny. Some children will fulfill their potential and surprise no one — the I-always-knew-they-were-going-to-do-greats.
Then some will fulfill their potential and surprise everyone.
It’s those children I ache to see on down the road.
Which ones will be touched with magic and confound their teachers, their fellow students, their fellow students’ parents.
Who have the power to change things and don’t know it.
Or maybe they do.
It’s just everyone else who’s yet to see.
That makes me happy.
And the best quote of the day — and of my year — was one I read on my friend Jill Hill’s blog this morning. It sums up why I have no tears.
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. Dr. Seuss.
Yes, I’m smiling for what has happened.
And for what is yet to be revealed.
What about you? Tears for big milestones or do you roll with the changes?
I love chaperoning field trips but one thing never fails to surprise me when I get off the bus at some destination.
Chaperoning means keeping track of children.
As in make sure they don’t wander off. Make sure they behave. Make sure they get back on the bus alive.
A few weeks ago, I traveled with my son’s second grade class to the High Museum in Atlanta for a celebrated exhibition.
Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were married Mexican artists. Rivera was Kahlo’s senior by many years and an internationally renown artist when they met. He is considered the greatest Mexican painter of the 2oth century. Kahlo was a self taught artist who began painting while recuperating from injuries sustained in a serious bus accident.
Now the High is a cool place. They made us swear blood oaths not to take pictures of the Rivera/Kahlo work. So later when I tried to take pictures else where in the museum, my four charges freaked out.
But I snapped away in spite of their shrieks that an officer of the High would carry me off to the museum pokey.
Now the exhibit itself was fascinating. We donned headsets and stood in front of the painting the voice described. There was an adult track and a child’s track.
I chose the adult track which in hindsight was a rookie-chaperone-of-second-graders-to-the-High mistake.
For they didn’t talk about the same pieces of art. The kids were running to the paintings they were hearing about and I was back trying to follow the adult track.
In the end, I skipped some of mine — because frankly I didn’t want to be the mom who lost a child.
Some of the art was more adult in nature.
I got that the nude figures were sensual — but it took the nice voice over headset person to point out the erotic nature of the splayed-open papaya sitting next to the rather large banana.
Frisky fruit. Who knew?
When we came upon a three-story exposed breast and I heard giggling from my charges, I quickly shuffled them on the the next painting of watermelons. Not sure what the watermelon represented but it was a lot less funny than a naked lady to a nine-year-old boy.
After viewing the exhibit we got to roam the floors of the High for about 20 minutes until lunch.
In case anyone turned up missing, I thought this one was a good shot to verify I had everyone with me at 12:05.
While we were eating our lunch, a youngster who wasn’t in my immediate group sidled up to me.
“Joe’s mom,” J. asked while putting the mouth of a milk carton to his lips.
J. swallowed the milk.
“I don’t think it was appropriate that we saw some of those pictures.”
Dear goodness. I wasn’t even J.’s chaperone. I think all such sensitive questions need be answered by the individual child’s shepherd for the trip.
“Well, J. The human body has always been a subject of artists since people began drawing. It’s a object of beauty.”
J. looked me straight in the eye, took another sip and darted off to throw away his carton.
Okay my answer was pretty lame — the kid threw me a curve — but I said it so matter-of-fact that he must have thought there was nothing to be concerned about.
After all the human body is a work of art.
It’s those darn papayas that you’ve got to watch out for.
That little ESP where she can look about a room and size up any windfalls or downfalls her child will suffer through.
My youngest and I pulled up to the start of the Real Buckhead Road Race 5K on Saturday.
It soon became evident, there were more children his age than normal running a small race like this. Which was great. Or could be not so great.
Depending what scenario played out.
Scenario one: He races his young friends full speed till his breath fails then he good-naturedly walks and runs the rest of the race.
The second and more likely scenario: He races full speed till his breath fails and he stops right there — not moving another millimeter forward.
The competitive spirit that drove him to almost puke beating a 55-year-old woman to the finish last weekend will swamp him with anger at not keeping up with friends. Why is this the more likely scenario? Because it has happened. Leaving me stranded with an angry child who will not move. One. More. Inch.
But I’m an old pro at this mother biz. Let the slight prospect of a major meltdown bobbing on the horizon stop me?
Besides. We had already picked up our numbers.
Before the race. All was posey rosey.
The gun sounded — or maybe there was a nice man who said, “Go” — and we were off.
Sure enough. Soon enough my linebacker strained to keep up with the wideouts.
And before too long . . .
But we kept moving forward.
Until his side-stitch-of-a-cramp paralyzed him like Botox in a midlife furrow.
He wasn’t moving.
This is when I called on my decades of child psychology to keep that boy stepping forward.
“Mom. Mom. I don’t want to go anymore. My side hurts.”
“Just walk it off. Keep moving. It will get better,” I said a bit too peppy for me. I’m a positive sort but not rah-rah so this came out rather like telling all my friends “so glad you made cheerleading when I didn’t because really I only tried-out to watch your triple backflips up close.”
Smile. Smile. Ugh.
We had only gone one mile of three.
Double ugh. Smile. Smile. “You can do this Joe. You got to finish the race to wear the shirt right?”
“No,” was his reply.
And then a little Christmas miracle happened at the 1.34 mile point.
A wide receiver came back to play with my linebacker who had evolved into a lineman.
Skipping and walking and trying “not to step on the road.” Then “trying not to step on the yellow,” the wideout and the lineman forged ahead.
We all skipped along for the last few miles.
Finally, we saw the finish looming up there.
Afterwards, nothing like some pancakes to really work a cramp out of your side.
Yes, my running buddy and I hit the high school cafe for pancakes and all was better.
You know, it was a great morning.
A sweet wide receiver came back and helped his lumbering lineman friend (and the lineman’s mama who was running out of tricks) finish the race.
And my son didn’t meltdown with disappointment. He rose to the challenge and played the ball where it lay that morning.
A raging cramp-in-the-side was a crummy lie.
Like I told the boys. “We might have been one of the last ones to finish, but we beat everyone who stayed in bed that morning.”
Not that staying in bed on a Saturday is such a bad thing. But you didn’t hear it from me.
Have you ever had to coach a child through disappointment?