Life is all about reaching markers of achievement. From the moment we’re born everyone around us counts them. Our first word, first crawl, first step, first haircut, first date, first wedding…ok, we all hope there is only one wedding, but…
Today was my youngest son’s graduation from Kindergarten. A big milestone. Now, there is part of me that wonders why we celebrate a “graduation” like that. He’s not changing schools—nor are any of his classmates—he is just moving up a grade. My older son has been wondering what the big deal is because his class isn’t “graduating”, so why is his brother’s? I now have an answer, but it’s not one that I can really explain to an eight-year-old.
The answer is that it is not so much a good-bye to Kindergarten…it’s a good-bye to my “baby”. Before our little ones hit the number grades, they are still our little babies. They are still new to school, still mommy and daddy’s little helper, still our “baby”. They usually still have all their baby teeth, favorite blanky, teddy, etc. They still NEED us. I’ve heard plenty of people say that the first step INTO Kindergarten is their first step towards independence. I can see that, but it really is the step OUT of Kindergarten I think. They have now been through an entire year of education geared towards teaching them how to do for themselves. They are independent little thinkers and you really can’t tell them anything—a true blessing and a curse. Now they head to first grade, where everything changes. If you’ve never had children, just look at any group of first grader’s class pictures. The first thing you’ll notice is their smiles—this is when they lose their two front teeth. They get their “adult” teeth.
But here’s what I noticed today: I was in a room where everyone was so happy the year was over…so glad the kids made it through and were moving on. Why? Why are we in such a hurry to move past life? What happened to savoring the moment? Why do we let life rush by and actually cheer it on, wanting it to move faster?
It’s easy to blame technology—it’s the fast pace of the world today, what is necessary to succeed, the way to make it. However, technology can’t MAKE us miss life. We USE technology as an excuse for missing life. We spend so much time “connected” to the electronic world that we aren’t actually connecting to our real worlds (says the hypocritical woman typing her thoughts on a computer).
Here’s the thing we have GOT to remember about the milestones we are sailing by every day—unlike milestones on a highway, you cannot turn around and go back to them. Once you go past the markers in life, they’re just gone. Don’t get me wrong, I love each step my kids make and don’t want them to go backwards. But what today reminded me is that I need to revel in the marvels of every ordinary day with them. Because the day will come—all too quickly—where my “babies” are not necessarily in my everyday life.