Saturday, June 7, 2008

How the Time Flies!

In the past couple of weeks, we've seen both of our older boys be "promoted" from preschool and elementary school. After two years at Small Friends Preschool, Kieran will be moving on to kindergarten in the fall, and after six years at Maplewood Elementary, Chris will be heading to Robert Gray Middle School (yikes!). We will be at Maplewood for a total of 17 years! It's a good thing that we love the school, principal, and teachers there.

I look back on the past six years and wonder where the time has gone. When Chris started kindergarten, I was pregnant with Kieran after multiple miscarriages...and just getting used to the idea of finally having a second child. And now somehow we have found ourselves with three!

Here are some "before" and "after" photos of both of the boys:

Christmas photo, kindergarten (2002)

Getting ready to leave for first day of school, first grade (fall 2003)

Chris posing with Maplewood's wonderful principal, John Blanck, who is out there at the crosswalk every single morning, and knows every single child by name, face, and personality.

Chris and his buddy from preschool, James, in first grade

Kieran on the first day of school at Small Friends (fall 2006)

More fun preschool times (2006)

Kieran had his "promotion celebration" at Small Friends in May, when his class performed several songs and shared cookies and punch afterward:

I apologize for the quality of these photos...but you can see how much our boy enjoys performing!

Posing with Grandma, Grandpa, and Little Brother at the party
Future Small Friends student Nicholas shoving a cookie into his beloved Grandpa's mouth!
At age five, Kieran has been smitten by the love bug! I've never experienced anything like it. He's absolutely besotted with a girl named Mara. He has built a "love machine" in the backyard (for her to enter and fall in love with him); regularly draws pictures depicting the two of them together; often tells us how beautiful she is; and twice presented her flowers after school. It's been fascinating to witness! Since school ended, we haven't been hearing quite as bit about Mara...but they did have a play date at the Children's Museum, after which he announced that we must move next door to her family. When asked what we should do if no house was available for sale, he told us that we could then live in a tent!

Kieran and Mara posing with the flower of the day
Kieran, Mara, and a friend

Posing with Kieran's Teacher Sydney
And Teacher Mara
On Monday, Chris had fifth grade promotion at Maplewood. It was quite a hoopla! One of my similar-age colleagues commented to me the other day that when she was a child, they had no such ceremonies or events beyond high school graduation--I had the same experience. Now schools celebrate each milestone, a wonderful thing in my opinion. It's always good to celebrate children at every opportunity.
At the fifth grade promotion, Chris' teacher and the principal were quite emotional about this class moving on to middle school. Both fifth grade teachers and the principal gave wonderful speeches about the positive traits of this particular class of kids.

Chris receiving his certificate from his teacher and principal

Part of the fifth grade class posing for their photo (Chris is on the left-hand side, waving his certificate in the air)

Chris with his fifth grade teacher
Yesterday, the last day of school, was the fifth grade talent show. Chris got his wish, to be the emcee of the show. Unfortunately, I didn't get any good photos of him up on stage, but he did a great job!
I'm feeling ambivalent about his moving onto middle school. Maplewood has been a wonderful school for him--it's relatively small and he's been able to get more special attention than he might have in a larger school. It has not been without its headaches, though, particularly because some of the boys have not always been kind to him. On the other hand, what I do love about the school is the way they emphasize the principles of respect and kindness, and negative behavior is not ignored.
Middle school might have its own particular demons...I was bullied in junior high school, by the "hoods" who tormented me at the bus stop. Although it's somewhat comforting to me to think that they are probably all total losers as adults, at the time it was difficult to put into perspective.
What I've found about Chris is that he has a far-greater capacity for forgiveness and compassion than I do. If we point out that certain boys who are mean to him actually might have difficult lives or home circumstances, he feels sorry for them. This ability to show compassion to those children amazes me (while Mike and I are thinking far less-than-charitable thoughts about them!). He is a true testimony to "turn the other cheek." It worries me that this could make him more of a target in middle school, because he is kind and gentle. I aspire to be as forgiving and understanding as my son.
As far as Kieran goes, we never have to worry about him sticking up for himself. He's the direct opposite of Chris. After one of his school friends pushed another one into the creek at a recent post-school playdate, he announced that the "pusher" is no longer one of his friends! He is much less likely to forgive, much more likely to hold a grudge, and certain to defend himself in any way possible. Such interesting opposites.
In looking over these photos and pondering the years gone by so quickly, I am reminded of the need to stop cleaning or puttering around the house when my children want me to sit down with them and read a book or cuddle up while they are watching a video. (I wasn't going to attend the talent show yesterday because of missing some work on Monday, until Chris begged me to attend.) The boys get less cuddly and more angular as they grow up, and they are less likely to want to hang out with me the older they get. I must savor those requests for attention, however distracting they might be at times, because I know they will most likely fade with time. And then I will be very wistful.

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