Nobody told me I’d cry more at the end than I did at the beginning.
A friend posted this on Facebook recently and, barring a heavy emotional attachment to The Office, I supposed that she was referring to the end of the school year. For us, it’s the end of Amelia’s first school year.
Robin was away on business travel and I, needing a moment to sort through my Magic the Gathering playing cards, I mean finish reading the complete works of Shakespeare, had the girls watch a television show.
As the Octonauts wrapped up their “creature report” I heard Amelia crying. Knowing it’s not a sentimental show, I rolled my eyes, got up and started to say “We’re tired sweety, let’s go to bed.”, which would’ve led to her angrily lashing “No I’m not!”, flailing feet, my frustration, a salt filled mouth for toothpaste, quickly shut doors, and grouchy goodnights.
Instead, I got to the “We’re…”, stopped, sat down next to her and said, “What’s wrong Mill?” Through crying-heart sobs she stammered quick phrases about missing and loving her teacher, she asked if first grade teachers wore glasses like her, and had an outpouring of emotions akin to the ones we had 9 months ago when seeing her off to Kindergarten.
I listened, she felt.
I don’t always react this way. “Come on get up…You’re fine…Let’s get a snack…” all fly out of my mouth faster than Sam Kinison’s spittle in an effort to placate a situation because, well, quite frankly, sometimes it’s easier.
But, I’m glad I stopped.
Amelia’s, and our, crying at “the end” is a way of feeling through this next step of growth. It’s not the end that brings tears, but the force of something beginning.
We’ve set into motion the influence that others will have on our children, societal markers of achievement, and ultimately the putting into place of learning to stop and listen to the real, raw, and even rational emotions that our kids, who are becoming independent people, have.
Their accolades will always be cause for celebration, wonder, and, most likely, a good old fashioned cry. Maybe it’s time to share it with them, instead of waiting for them to go to bed “irrationally”, while we “rationally” blubber about our babies growing up.
A great ginormous thank-you to all teachers, para-professionals, administrators, counselors, and other school staff who work insanely hard to reach our children in a myriad of ways.
Andrew Meyer is a Special Education teacher from Madison, Wisconsin, whose wife’s job relocation changed their family roles and physical location. He's now a stay-at-home dad in Madison, Alabama, to two awesomely creative, sometimes challenging, and mostly sweet five and two-year-old girls who fill his days, nights, and in-between spaces. When with or without them, he writes, works-out, wonders, wishes he wouldn’t worry, wrestles with his wife’s commitment to her job, and listens to music. You can also find him at www.papasense.wordpress.com, on Twitter @papasense, and Facebook.