What was my first clue that I entered middle age? It wasn’t the gray hair or the wrinkles, all of a I was speaking in cliches. My most overused cliche? “Time flies!”
As with most teachers, I have come to note the passage of time by school holidays. First, the Jewish holidays, then Columbus Day, next the turkeys appear, and before you know it the holiday season is over.
Then, the dreaded January with its snow and bitter cold. All of a sudden, it is February vacation, and once March hits we are in the home stretch to summer break. At the speed of light, the school year ends with its dance recitals, soccer games, and end of the year parties.
This particular year, there was a milestone to celebrate. My oldest, Claire was graduating from middle school this year.
Wait what? She is going to high school in September? I still have Claire’s Kindergarten picture on the refrigerator, like it just happened yesterday.
During the years in between Kindergarten and now, Claire was busy making friends, getting straight A’s, diving, participating in Girl Scouts, and developing into a student leader. Of course I was there, but I was always rushing, making sure she got places on time.
So here we are at eighth grade graduation, and I still can’t believe it.
One by one, the speakers came up to the podium to talk to their audience of fourteen year olds. The themes of each speaker was the same; high school, college, and their future careers.
After each speech, tears sprang into my eyes, I wanted to run to her, and lead her out of that gym, and start all over. This time I would savor every second, and not care if I was late, and take my time.
Instead, I clapped politely, as the last speaker was introduced. It was the Assistant Principal of Claire’s new high school. The tears started to appear again as I waited for him to remind the students that in high school “everything counts” toward their future.
However, to my surprise he finished his speech with a simple call to action-“This summer, just be a kid.” What no grit? No rigor? Just be a kid? Who is this man?
Even though he was addressing the eighth graders, I felt those words were meant for me. Kids don’t even know what cliches are. They live in the moment and believe they have all the time in the world. How do I go back to that?
Summer break is all about living in the moment. Time does not fly, it walks slowly. The days are endless, as there is no rush to get homework done, no running for the bus, and since we are all less stressed, there are less arguments. Time takes a break from all that flying and stands still for the time being.
This summer, I am going to take the advice of Claire’s new Assistant Principal, and be a kid without a cliche.
Claire at her graduation ceremony