Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another School Year Over

Ian's last day of school is tomorrow (officially, the last day is Thursday, but we're taking him out a day early so we can enjoy a long weekend at Rocking Horse Ranch to start the summer off), and today, among the things he brought home was this:

He's not sad, here — he told me he was just trying to recreate the look of the photo that was used for this art project

Sometimes I can't help but feel that Ian deserves a real father, because things like this just make me want to cry like a girl.

Ian will be moving on to the middle school next year, away from the school he's been in since kindergarten. [Warning: Egregiously lame cliché forthcoming:] And yes, it seems like just yesterday that he was in kindergarten.

I remember at the end of his kindergarten year, they did a program for the parents in the school gymnasium, and one of the things it included was a slide show of all the kids doing the ABCs — as in, the kids folded themselves into the shapes of the letters. Usually it took more than one kid to make a letter; sometimes as many as four, as was the case with the letter "W".

Ian alone was the letter "I". 

We — Teh 'Bride and I — didn't know that he would be the letter "I", but by the time his picture came up on the big screen, Teh 'Bride and I were already holding each other's hands and letting out involuntary "awwww"s because we knew most of these kids and it was just too incredibly adorable but also sad because this was a moment in time that was gone even as we were seeing it for the first time and we knew that Ian and his kindergarten classmates were moving on and it was just so bittersweet. Because you want them to progress but you also secretly, selfishly, don't want them to change.

And then a picture flashed on the screen — Ian as the letter "I", lying on the gym floor, ramrod straight, all alone, a BIG smile on his face — and it was at that moment that I lost it because I could feel the warm tears running down my face and I was glad the gym was darkened for the show but I also didn't care because if any moment was worth risking being mocked for, it was that one. Because that was my son and he was growing up too fast even though I used to make him promise, when he was two, that he wouldn't do that — grow up too fast — and he would cheerfully agree not to: "Dat okay, Daddy. Ian not grow up fast."

(Three years later, he would become the letter "I", but Ian didn't seem to even know the word "I", because he always referred to himself as "Ian" when he was young and was just learning to speak.)

But of course he has grown up. And of course it has been far too fast. And now, at the end of the year, he's bringing home far more intricate and sophisticated art projects, and instead of smiling, he's more likely to have the look you see in the picture above on his face, and yet in that face, still, still, I see the fat little cherubic face that I first saw in real life when he was carried off that plane in Newark airport and his head was round then and his cheeks were fat and he had a little Mohawk on his head because he'd been born with a full head of hair (we'd been sent pictures from his foster family in Korea) but the hair on the sides had pretty much fallen out and he was just the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen and I hadn't even suspected until that moment that there had been something missing from my life but from that moment on I couldn't imagine life without him.

And that's what I see whenever I look at him now.

And I suspect I always will.

Ian with my younger sister. You can kind of still see the Mohawk, though by this time the sides were kind of growing back in a bit.


  1. Nicely written. I almost choked up, which is saying a lot for me.

    "You can kind of still see the Mohawk, though by this time the sides were kind of growing back in a bit."

    Does your sister know that you speak of her like this? I assume she doesn't read your blog...

  2. Big congrats to Ian for making it through the elementary school! It's a huge step up for him and you. My eldest is starting elementary school July 9th (year round school) in 5 yr old kindergarten. it scares me.

  3. Damn tough guy... I save my sappy $hit for a whole other blog...


  4. You do realize of course, that next week he'll be asking you for the car keys, and the week after that, you'll be making him drive because you'll be too much of a geezer to risk driving yourself?

  5. This post shows you are the very definition of a real father.

    I often sit smugly and deny the existence of fate or "a plan" and then I see families formed from across the globe that were so clearly meant to be together. Makes me doubt my own smug ass.

    And yes, I did cry like a girl.

    Sue me. (Good luck with that. I am a high school teacher I own a 6 year old Honda and a 12 year old dog... big winnings there, bucko)

  6. Oh good. Makes me feel better about crying in the car yesterday after I picked up my son from his last day of first grade on our way to pick up my daughter from her last day of preschool.

    There are so many moments when I watch them that I just want to freeze & forever imprint into my memory. I see quick flashes of their baby faces in the expressions they make, & it makes me so sad that those days have past. Then I realize that their little faces as they are now will also pass, & I'll be pining away for these days.

  7. For a moment there I though Teh 'Bride was making a guest post, nancy....

    all kidding aside, it is really amazing for me to catch a glimpse of unconditional love. Thanks for sharing that post and part of your life with us.

  8. oh for freak's sake! i just emailed u 2 tell u that i was a dorkasaurus today for getting weepy in front of the vp at ian's school (to the point that she hugged me) while dropping off food stuff for his end-of-elementary school fiesta. and then u mail me THIS!
    and now i am weepy all over again
    argh! and i have a mtg in minutes and they r all going to laugh at my fat red face and if i try to explain - it'll make me cry AGAIN!
    i think that i feel a mental health day coming on ...
    love, teh bride

  9. That is awesome. Really really awesome.