Thursday, June 16, 2005

Leaving Two Schools and Growing Up

Promotion time - life is moving on....

I could weep. But not from sadness, or tragedy, or loneliness, or sorrow. My life is full, and busy, and blessed, and overflowing. I could weep from a strange mix of feelings. Life is moving on, and I, of all people in my family, am not quite ready for it all. I haven't been for some time now.

Today was "promotion" day in South Pasadena; the time when we honor elementary and middle school students who are moving up to new schools. And, by Divine Plan in our family, this year is unique. We have two girls moving up - Heather our 11 year old is moving up from Marengo Elementary School to Middle School, and Kelly, our 14 year old, is moving on to South Pasadena High School. And so, today, we attended two different promotion events, one at the elementary school for our 5th grader, and one at the Middle School for our high-schooler to be.

In a couple of days I will turn 47. I am deep in the middle section of middle age. I am a bit soft around the middle and very exposed to the elements on top (note photo above). I am married to a wonderful woman who is a kind and passionate and caring and a very involved mom. She is a dear, forgiving, and loving wife. I don't deserve any of this.

For the past 9 years, we have been blessed to have one, then two, then back to one daughter in Marengo School, which is a wonderful, caring, nurturing, small town-feeling school. The principal is our friend and next door neighbor (no kidding) of 15 years. We could not be more blessed. Our Heather is ready to move on to Middle School. Marengo was great, but time to take a jump in the waters of Middle School.

For the past three years our older daughter has been navigating the waters of Middle School, and has come out at the end of the rapids. Head up, kayak afloat, smiling, and with great grades. But she is ready for bigger class rapids, deeper water, and perhaps a wilder ride. High school looms ahead, and she is ready. Time to move on.

And then there is Dad. I would be the guy standing at the edge of the river, holding a paddle, wearing a life vest, smiling, watching it all take place, and having many, many thoughts. Some of those thoughts are like foggy memories which came floating through my head today during Middle School promotion, while watching all those different sized and shaped Middle Schoolers get their certificates. Life at this stage is so awkward, so tentative, so, well, adolescent. I can vaguely, very vaguely remember that weird stage of my own life.

Some other thoughts occurred this morning, during Elementary promotion. Perhaps the most haunting thought, or really more of a feeling, is that of loss. It is indeed time for me to grow up, along with my daughters. There are lots of things I miss these days, and I think it has a lot to do with the ages of my girls (11 and 14). I miss little girls. Girls that come up to your knee, or your waist at most. I miss being gang tackled when I come home from work with screams of "Daddy!". I miss sitting at dinner and having someone tell me "the best part of school today was recess". I miss one particular daughter constantly falling out of her chair at dinner because she was laughing too hard. I miss reading together in bed. I miss watching completely ridiculous Disney movies together.

Now when I come home I am lucky if I get acknowledged at all, by my girls at least. My wife is still good at saying hello. One girl is on the phone, and the other is either on the computer or doing homework or at some sports practice. We don't read together anymore - No more Arthur's Teacher's Trouble. And if we watch movies together, its usually after a debate over the rating of the movie, the content, and whether it is "appropriate". The is a lot of eye-rolling and sighing that goes on at our house during this particular season of life.

And so, here I stand with my paddle, and the water rolls on. The current keeps moving. I can't stop it. My eyes are full of tears, and being male, I am not sure why. But I think I know. Its all about this remarkable journey we are on together as a family, and the remarkable God that makes it all possible. He gave us these girls to hold, wet and bright and wiggly and crying, 11 and 14 years ago. But He has always wanted us to hold them gently, because they really never belonged to us. I used to hold them so tight when they were little. But, these girls are His, just loaned to us for a while. And with each passing year, I can feel that my grip on them is lessening. I don't like that feeling, I want to hold on tight. But the grip is softer, and hands I reach out to hold, do not hang on as long or as tight as they used to.

So it should be. May the One who gave us these hands to hold remind me each day of His sure grip on all of our lives. All of us.
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