School Silhouettes

It was never cool to like school. For the most part, I fell into that category too, and most years I couldn’t wait to walk out of those stuffy buildings for the last time in June. But after some years, the good ones, I didn’t want it to end. Secretly I wished we had a few more days or weeks, and privately I knew I’d miss the camaraderie of my classmates. Even then I found comfort in human contact as much as I shrugged it away.

As I was watching my niece and nephew and the graduating class of their pre-school program, I was struck with how the teacher was so moved, as she thanked those who helped her throughout the year. With tears in her eyes, she expounded upon the virtues of each member of the class, predicting what sort of career of future the kids might have, praising their strong-points, and instilling in them a sense of self that the best teachers always manage to bring out.

The pre-schoolers themselves seemed largely unaware of the finality of the moment. Their smiling faces betrayed nothing of worry or consternation at moving on to the next phase of their lives. At such a young age how could they worry about such matters? I wondered instead at their teacher, and what these transitory moments might mean to her. She’s with these kids for a year or two, informing and shaping their lives as they grow up, and at the beginning of summer she’s gone from their lives.

I don’t think I could do that. I couldn’t handle getting attached or affected by people only to have them leave after a year. Over and over again, some years more difficult than others, but each one meaningful in its own way. I don’t think my heart could take having to say goodbye every year like that. As a child I knew no other way but as an adult it’s a choice, and it’s not something I’d want to do. It sounds a bit melodramatic, and perhaps it’s an exaggeration, or at least some connection that only happens in childhood. (I never found quite the same dynamic with any of my college professors, but I remember almost every single one of my grade school teachers.)

As the twins posed in front of their silhouettes, I wondered what was going through their heads. They still have one more year to go before they move on, and they’re still too young to really remember any of this in the future. That’s all right. I’ll remember it for them.

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