It’s been a nostalgic, busy week, which means I’m feeling a little fragile due to the a) exhaustion that comes with being a teacher in June and b) emotional rollercoaster of being a parent with a kid hitting milestones like a game of pinball. To explain this, let me take you back to this same week sixteen years ago.
Back in 2006, I missed kindergarten graduation, which is pretty much the pinnacle of a kindergarten teacher’s entire year. I was actually on bedrest, because my principal Kathy sent me home the day before.
She sent me home because she came into my classroom after my students were gone and I was still sitting on the carpet, cross-legged, unable to get up without a great, herculean effort. Which sounds alarming, but isn’t really that odd when you’re nearly nine months pregnant and attempting to teach young children full-time.
I had planned on staying because I wanted a longer maternity leave after my baby was born, you see. And Kathy was ok with that until she saw me sitting there like an uncomfortable, immovable turnip. She sent me home, rolling her eyes into the back of her head as I insisted that could totally get up if I felt like it.
Anyway, I missed graduation and went into labor instead. Sixteen years later, I’m getting ready for another kindergarten graduation, a birthday party and a grade nine graduation. So, you know, I’m a bit of a wreck.
I’m so proud because she’s such a beautiful sixteen-year-old, even more beautiful than the baby girl with the rosebud lips and deeply cherry-blush cheeks who arrived that day. She doesn’t have a clue that she is, of course, because she’s a teenager just figuring it all out. She’s brilliantly creative, with a wicked sense of humor and a great sense of irony. She has an artist’s hands, which fills me with awe (because I don’t), and an artist’s deep soul, which fills me with empathy (because it’s genetic).
And I’m emotional because sixteen years have flown by in one sense, and yet they have also been filled to the brim with this girl. Sixteen years of her laughter filling the house, her devilish humor, her shoes scattered in front of the door. All these years of all the things she’s collected and adored with her entire being for a few months (remember Shopkins and Littlest Pet Shop? Come over, I’ll show you her closet). The music, oh my goodness, the music. In 2013 it was “Do You Want To Build a Snowman” and since 2019 it’s been My Chemical Romance.
These sixteen years of Christmas cookie bake-offs and doll houses and rescued puppies, they have flown by. Even so, there’s so much to turn over in my mind, to hold tightly to in my heart. Because when I think about all those precious years, it seems unfathomable that I might only have a few more with her under this roof with me.
But she grins when I get sniffly about it, and probably posts something sweet about it on Tik Tok that she’ll never show me. Then she’ll plunk herself down on my bed when I’m almost asleep and snuggle up against me to remind me that she’s still here. And that I’ve still got a few more years to fill up this heart of mine before she flies away to light up the world in another corner.
Sixteen years ago, my girl made me stop in the middle of my life so she could make her grand entrance. Nothing has ever been the same. And I’m so grateful to her for making sure of that.
I wish my girl a happy birthday and a happy grade 9 graduation. I’m so proud of this wonderfully caring, creative daughter who is the joy of our lives. Happy birthday, kiddo.