A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.
– George Santayana, Spanish philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist
My two kids’ last day of school is this Friday at noon. Every year, for the past seven years, I’ve picked them up and we’ve gone to various parks for a picnic with other families to celebrate the end of the school year. The kids play in the park, and the parents – usually the moms – marvel at how quickly the year has gone by. Eight years later, I am amazed at how one year my son and his friends were these little boys running around on the playground and now they – or least my son – are dabbing rubbing alcohol on the pimples that have sprouted on their faces in the mornings. Now they dash out the front door to walk to school part way by themselves and then at a designated spot meet up with their friends before reaching their destination of middle school. Whereas I once vowed never to let them walk to or from school by themselves, my son, who is finishing up seventh grade, routinely walked from middle school to his old elementary school to pick up his sister after school this past year. And I greet them – no longer anxiously, as I did in the beginning of the school year – when they come home.
People have told me that the years from middle school through high school accelerate. I believe it, but I have witnessed those years flying by since at least fourth grade, if not third. Raising kids is exhausting. It ages you, and miraculously it keeps you young, which is an interesting phenomenon if you are an older parent. One day you wish they (along with their slovenliness) were ready to leave home, and then the next day you hug them hard – and they surprise you by hugging you back – and wish they would stay their age forever (as long as you stayed your current age forever, too).
I have a few friends whose daughters are finishing up their senior year in high school. Both babysat our kids and we’ve known them for a number of years. I actually get verklempt when I think of them moving on because I know I’ll be that parent soon enough. And I know that moment will come before I can ever be prepared for such a time. When my son or daughter tell me that this day or that event went by too quickly, I let them know that they haven’t seen anything yet in terms of life whooshing by. So I tell them not to ever tell me that they’re bored, because if they do, it’s a shame and it’s their fault because they control what they do with their time, regardless of whether I am dragging them to a place or event they’d rather not be. Life is too short to be bored.
On that note, it’s summer, and that’s the time to really get an education, so that when our kids go off to college, they have learned more than what goes on in the classroom. I remember someone telling me about Ansel Adams’ father letting him explore the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco for the duration of the event in 1915 (which was open to the public from February to December, mind you). Now that’s an education. Hopefully, this summer will be the beginning of really taking advantage of education outside of the classroom. I don’t have too many summers left to do this with my kids before they move away and take hold of their own education and adventures. I’m getting verklempt again.