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Elementary school no more

June 3, 2011

Today is Ian’s last full day of school (technically, the kids get out an hour early, but they only go for 90 minutes on Monday–provided I decide to send them) as an elementary school student. I went to school today to see Ian’s author project, a report on his favorite author, that he’s been working on essentially all school year. He chose J.K. Rowling, as he read (and thoroughly enjoyed) all seven Harry Potter books between the beginning of September and just after New Years.

Their report consisted of a quote from their chosen author, a brief biography of their author, a brief synopsis of the representative book (Ian chose “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, in case you’re wondering), and why he would recommend it to someone else. He was the first kid to present, and he did a smashing job.

Unfortunately, my lack of computer techery knowledge prohibits me from figuring out how to post the video I shot of it to this blog. But trust me- he did a great job.

We listened to all the kids’ reports, and then we were able to eat lunch outside with our kids (I picked up Subway) over their lunch and recess time. Ian and I had lunch, had a nice little chat, talked with a couple classmates and their moms, and then he decided he wanted to go play with his friends. Dads are only fun for so long.

Anyway, at that point I decided to go find his teacher. Mrs. Schackmann was Ian’s 3rd grade teacher, and this school year she moved to 5th grade. When we found that out late last school year, Ian was hopeful all summer that he would get her again, and sho’ ’nuff, he did. She is an absolutely outstanding teacher. I know (and have known) a great many teachers, good and bad, and I don’t think I have ever met one- or had one myself- quite like Mrs. Schackmann. She truly, truly loves her job. She is wildly passionate about teaching, about learning, and about her students. She calls her students her friends rather than her students. She responds to them and, in turn, they respond to her. Not only was she his teacher, she was one of the advisors for IMSA, the Illinois Math and Science Academy, an academic club for 4th and 5th graders that met once a week after school to do projects, play games, and conduct experiments involving scientific and mathematic principles.

Ian and Mrs. Schackmann

I went back into school to find her, and couldn’t. I looked in her room, I looked in the office, I looked in the cafeteria, in the teacher’s lounge, and could not find her at all. She had said before the reports got started that she’d gotten choked up a couple times already that day, so I was wondering if maybe she was off in her car having a breakdown or something. I probably would have been. Anyway, I was just about to leave when I found her in the back of the school with the other 5th grade teacher, filling up buckets with water. Something told me there could be some mischief involved, and I was quite fine with that. So I thanked her for everything over the last three years, and she and I both were choking back tears. She told me how she hopes to get Adam as a student in a few years, to which I wanted to reply, “Be careful what you wish for”, but thought better of it. Without saying anything, we decided mutually to end the conversation for fear of winding up bawling in each other’s arms.

That’s when it hit me hardest. This is Ian’s last hurrah in grade school. He goes back Monday for 90 minutes- I told him he doesn’t have to go, but I think he actually wants to- but this is essentially his last day. I got back to the car and cried. Luckily I wasn’t the only wussy parent- I did see some moms crying as well. I thought about Ian’s first day of kindergarten, which was, simultaneously, just yesterday and yet so long ago, when I put him on the bus for the first time and cried.

Yes, I’m a big baby. Shut up.

I thought about the school events, the music programs, the ‘Sports Days’, the fun fairs, the class projects, and the library periods of which Ian and, consequently, Dawn and/or I have been a part for the last six years, and realized that all comes to an end at 2:30 today. Yes, he goes to middle school next year, but that’s a whole different era of his life. It’s the same but completely different. And yes, Adam is just finishing kindergarten (by the skin of his teeth- not academically so much as behaviorally) and has 5 more years at Owen Marsh, but my firstborn is done with elementary school.

I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet. I’m not completely sure he is either. Today at lunch he told me he’s been looking forward to this moment, yet dreading it at the same time, for the last six years. Something that occurred to me just this second: when Adam finishes at Owen Marsh in 5 years, Ian will be getting close to getting his driver’s license. His driver’s license! Oh my freakin’ GAWD! What happened to my little Monkey that I just put on the bus for kindergarten? How can he be heading into middle school already?

To next year’s assistant principal, Ms. Wickham (a personal friend of mine), I am very much looking forward to Ian’s opportunity to receive your direction, wisdom and guidance for the next three years at Lincoln. He is a very bright kid with a ton of potential, and I know enough about you and your passion and love for your students to know what you can do with that potential. All I can tell you is… get ready.

And to my oldest son, I just have these words:

In the last six years, I have seen you grow from wide-eyed kindergartener into a mature 5th grader with an amazing mind and limitless potential. You have no idea of the tools you possess. Tap into them- REALLY tap into them. Discover what they can do for you, and what you can do for them. Don’t be afraid of challenges, and don’t let failure, or the fear of failure, deter you. It is these failures that are essential to success, strangely enough. The only way to truly fail is not to have tried. Continue what you’re doing academically, making your mother and me extremely proud parents. I love you so much, Ian.

And I’m sorry if my crying over your grade school career ending embarrasses you. You should see me right now as I’m typing this. And, being my son, don’t be too surprised if at 10:30 Monday morning, you’re wiping tears away yourself.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2011 1:48 pm

    Well. Color me weepy now. Dang.

    I will take it as a personal challenge to hold the bar high and expect great things from Ian. I just need a little R&R for a month and then I’ll be raring to go. Promise.


    • Johann permalink*
      June 3, 2011 9:51 pm

      I know you will. Take that R&R; you deserve it. You are awesome, my dear.


  2. Kristen permalink
    June 3, 2011 2:22 pm

    Wow, I just had a flash back. Now I’M crying. My mom and dad used to tell me all the time how fast the time goes. When you are a child, time just crawls. Yet when you have a child, they become a physical timeline of the reality of just how correct our parents can be about some things. I can still see Harrison – now nearly 26 years old – standing next to the mural of the dragon (the school mascot) on the wall outside his kindergarten classon the first day of school. The biggest smile you have ever seen on his face. So hard to believe that was nearly 20 years ago!!! So, cry all you want dear cousin. The reality of what was is done. But the reality of what is to come is fantastic. Each phase of your child’s life is unique and special in it’s own way. BTW, having adult children is FABULOUS!!!!! (Waterworks must be a family trait, I am so guilty of that – HAPPY OR SAD OR PROUD – makes no difference.)

    • Johann permalink*
      June 3, 2011 9:54 pm

      Agreed ref. the waterworks being a family trait. I own it, Kristen! 😉 Love you!

  3. June 3, 2011 3:16 pm

    LOL U R SO GHEY!!!!!!!!!

    Kidding, of course. This was a very nice, thoughtful post. The symbolism of the move from elementary school to middle school is vast. Be proud, not only for Ian but for yourself for having the mental wherewithal to identify, acknowledge and appreciate such an important occasion, a quality that I lack.

    • Johann permalink*
      June 3, 2011 9:56 pm

      Nah, dude. You’ll surprise yourself when your time comes, which should be in right about a year from now. But thank you.

  4. Marjorie Stearns permalink
    June 3, 2011 3:42 pm

    Well said. I think Ian is a super kid, and I’d think that, even if he weren’t my grandson. Adam is a super kid, too, but they are not clones. Adam will find himself. He has such a good disposition all the time–that is a strength, for sure.

    • Johann permalink*
      June 3, 2011 10:00 pm

      Thanks, Mom. I’m really kind of overwhelmed at the response I got from this post- not just here, but also on the BookFace and on the Twitters. I apparently made many people cry today. That was not my intent in the least; I was basically putting some feelings into words and chose to share them–much like I did in the post when GK passed. Wasn’t really looking for a reaction, but the ones I got were amazing, and rather humbling, to be honest.

      One thing I must correct, however: “He (Adam) has such a good disposition all the time”… all I can say is, you’re not with him “all the time”!! 😉

  5. Meredith permalink
    June 3, 2011 9:09 pm

    This is a great post! I can’t believe he’s old enough for middle school!!

    • Johann permalink*
      June 3, 2011 9:56 pm

      I know, right?! Thanks, SW!

  6. Jennifer Lokaitis permalink
    June 4, 2011 6:08 am

    John, tell my “E-Baby” that Aunt Jen says “Congratulations!”. This is a big step, but you will both be fine! LOL! Tears are flowing here too. Imagine that out of me????? Very nice thoughts, John. Love you. xoxoxoxoxoxo

    • Johann permalink*
      June 4, 2011 9:47 pm

      Thanks, hon. Love you too!

  7. DBeau permalink
    June 8, 2011 11:12 am

    You have such a wonderful gift of writting and I enjoy your posts. The tears were welling up. I know exactly what you are going through. The thought that Jacob could be leaving for college in 3 years is over whelming at how quickly his childhood has gone by.

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