Rashmi Pappu » Photographer

This is it. Your very last day of elementary school is here. I still remember crying like a fool, writing One More Day, the night before you got on the yellow school bus to go to kindergarten. I was sad for weeks. I missed you, my buddy, my sidekick. I loved running errands with you to the post office, to Target, to the bank, with a stop for a treat at the bakery or Mac and cheese (“just macun mom, no cheese!”) at Whole Foods. And now here you are, finishing 5th grade, off to middle school in the fall.

You have had such wonderful teachers along the way and I wish I had the words to thank them properly. Your firm but warm hearted Kindergarten teacher, who welcomed a nervous little you into school and helped shape you into a confident rising first grader. There was your amazing first grade teacher who reminded me of Mary Poppins. In second grade you got a soft spoken, kind teacher who put you on the path to a life long love of reading. In third grade you got one of your favourites who gave you the best hugs and made me smile when I saw the little marker dot he put on your nose on some days. In fourth grade your teacher encouraged your love of Hamilton and finally in fifth grade you ended up with the teacher who saw in you all the things that make you who you are – an artist, a hard worker, a leader, and a kind human being. Your music teacher saw in your eyes dreams of Broadway and let you shine. Your art teacher saw your incredible creativity and took you under her wing. If elementary school lays the foundation for your future years, you had the best of the best. I am so grateful.

There were lunches with you in the cafeteria, field trips to museums and parks, class parties, band recitals, song recitals and plays. There were four years where your sister dropped you to class everyday and gave you a hug, and two years without her where you came into your own. There were so many friends made and lost and lessons learned about loyalty and true friendship. There was the confidence to just be yourself and not care one bit about not being included by others. You joined in soccer games at recess with the boys, not worried if no other girls were playing. You wanted to be Nala in the Lion King so very badly and I said I would be happy to pick you up from every single rehearsal if you managed to get that gig all by yourself. You did. You even applied to be student ambassador and got that role. I had no idea till another mom congratulated me on the soccer field one day. I was hands off, so you could grow in confidence. Often that was hard for me, but I knew it was best for you. 

All of it seems like it’s over in a flash. You are excited about middle school. No more uniforms. Your own locker and electives and band and German everyday. You were excited about getting on the school but when you were 5 years old too. And then a couple of weeks later this newness had worn off and the exhaustion set in. Kindergarten meant you were tired. You often napped when you came home, or played with your castle. Now you come home, still tired but with a second wind. You sometimes tell me about your day, invariably ask if you can play on the computer, but end up drawing or playing with your castle. Your legs are long, you sport eyeglasses, you still worry so much about your hair looking perfect. I worry about middle school for you, just like I worried about elementary school. You are my baby after all.

I am happy-sad. To watch you and your sister grow, is my life’s greatest joy. But I miss your little dimpled hands in mine, your tininess in a small navy and white uniform. Sometimes I think about all my college friends who have gone on to have such successful careers, allowing their children to have opportunities I won’t be able to give you . And then I weigh that against that 3:00pm loud opening of the front door, where you burst in and say,  “Mom, are you home?”, and tell me about your day while I fix you a snack.  I think about the days you played hooky and we just hung out. I think about having dinner as a family and I don’t regret a minute. Not one. The days are long, but the years are short. And now that this chapter in our life is closing, I can say with confidence that the years went by too fast. I wish I had one more day eating lunch with you in the loud cafeteria. One more day with a field trip, sitting next to you on the bus. One more day with an assembly where Dad and me would make sure we got there early to get front row seats. One more day of seeing all the kids in Halloween costumes. One more day of listening to the wonderful holiday songs recital. 

I love you to the moon and back. You and your sister remind me of all the good in the world when it seems like the world has gone crazy. Keep learning, keep creating, keep working hard, keep being good people. We wish we could keep you all to ourselves but that would be selfish – lucky are those who get to know you and become your friends.

xoxo

Mom