Jun 6, 201206:59 AMMinivan Diaries
My twins will graduate from elementary school tomorrow. They are clearly teetering on the brink of the transition, attracted by what lies ahead as well feeling pulled by the past. It is exciting to get older, but at the same time it is not easy to leave behind the security of their school and the childhood that passed within it.
This internal dissonance plays out in both obvious and subtle ways. My daughter cut her long hair recently, and loves to flip the ends around coquettishly. She checks her email frequently and raids her big sister’s closet. The American Girl dolls are gathering some dust. And yet she wears more skirts and dresses than she has since preschool, and sleeps surrounded by stuffed animals.
Her brother’s bed is also full of stuffed animals, but he is growing self-conscious about them. “Could we build a secret compartment in my room to hide them?” he asked me one day.
“You have one. It’s called a closet.” I responded drily. (It’s such fun to be a mom sometimes!)
He looked at me, confused.
“It’s where people put things away,” I said, raising my eyebrows encouragingly.
Still a blank look.
“Do you need me to show you where yours is?” I finally asked.
“Nah,” he said, ignoring my less than stellar parenting. “I’ll just store them under my bed, so they are there if I need them.”
I admit, I’m not really looking forward to middle school’s more turbulent moments, so when I see my twins playing with their toys or having an involved conversation with the cats, I feel my heart squeeze a little. When my son curls up next to me on the couch, or my daughter puts her head on my shoulder, I notice, and I try to savor the moment. They need this time, and so do I.
But spring has wound down, and elementary school has come to a close. The other morning I remarked wistfully that I’d found it touching to see a father holding his kindergartener’s hand on the way to school.
“I’ll let you do that one last time,” my son suggested.
“That’s ok,” I told him. “I’ll always remember what it felt like to hold your hand. But now I’m proud to see you walk by yourself.”
He grinned, shrugged on his backpack, and walked out the door with his sister. Together, they set off down the sidewalk.