Today was the kids' last day of school. Haley's last day of elementary, too. After they left this morning, I spotted her pre-algebra book lying under a stack of catalogs in the front room, so Kaleb and I walked to the school to take it to her.
The halls already had that ringing quality that means "empty." Classroom floors were blank carpets framed with desks; blackboards wiped clean, bulletin boards only empty cork board. I admitted to myself: on the last day of school, I miss being a teacher. Miss the feeling of closing the door, literally, on another year. The cycle of endings and beginnings is so clearly defined for teachers.
I wandered past Nathan's classroom and suddenly I found that I had a lump in my throat. Trust it to me to cry at the sight of first graders clustered around their (very pregnant) teacher for one last story. When I walked down the 5th/6th grade hall towards Haley's room, the lump got bigger. I know this is a cliched way to feel. I know it is silly to keep saying "time goes too fast." But it really, really hit me: she is growing up. And I don't know how it happened, how she went from the kindergartner who wouldn't wear anything but twirly dresses to this gangly, sometimes-delightful, sometimes-grumpy, always-intelligent girl.
So, yeah. I cried a bit, walking home. Because school is over and so is THIS particular chapter in my life, when all my Bigs were in the same school and could walk together, when they were all at the same place at the same time. Kaleb in the stage he is in right now, which is full of not just "no" but "no, NOT!" and with temper tantrums but also with his exploding vocabulary and quick intelligence. It won't ever be like it is right now. Maybe it will be even better. But I still don't want to let go of now.