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She's Going Into 5th

Why must we ever leave elementary school?

Time stops for no one. It keeps going whether we're ready or not.

Well... I'M NOT!

How can it be that my baby girl is starting her last year of elementary school tomorrow morning? And, more important, WHY?

I'm already having nightmares about the big bad world of middle school. Lockers, different classrooms, getting lost on campus, sex, drugs, bullies!

NOOO!

Why can't she stay a child forever? Why can't any of us?

The truth is childhood is a very brief period of time in our lives. It goes so fast. If you're not paying attention you could miss it.

I'm happy to say I have not missed my daughter's. I have been there to see the crawl turn to a walk turn to a run. The babble turn to words turn to songs. The scribbles turn to letters turn to poetry.

I have seen it all, heard it all, taken pictures, videos and mental movies of it all. And my only hope is that as she gets older and may, at times, drift away from who she was, I can be there to remind her. 

Remind her that she loves painting and storytelling, animals and flowers, music and swimming, snow and family, laughter and snuggles.

Remind her that her childhood is always in her. Always. And, as her mom, I have done all I can to protect it.

So, as we shop for back to school clothes and I see her shoe size grow and her pants get longer I can't help but close my eyes and whisper to myself,

"Take this in. All of it. The voice, the freckles, the braces, the hand holding mine. Hold it. Kiss it. Remember it. Cherish it. This is her childhood. All hers. I'm merely the invited one to watch over it."

Watch I shall. Watch, share, participate, guide, shield, encourage, support, celebrate.

As I come to the end of this column I discover to my surprise that childhood, in fact, is not brief at all.

Childhood, my friends, just might be the one thing we carry with us through our entire lifetime.

I think I'll go out and let mine play.

Miki Henderson August 13, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Ugh! How this made me cry! My youngest GREAT grandchild just entered fifth! You've got a long way to feel old Ms. McMartin!
Lois Keller August 13, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Great sentiments!
Susan McMartin August 13, 2012 at 04:17 PM
miki, thank you! and i CAN'T believe you have a great grandchild!! what's your secret?? ;-)
Susan McMartin August 13, 2012 at 04:17 PM
thanks, lois!
John Emerson August 13, 2012 at 06:56 PM
It sounds like you are doing it perfectly! Being so mindful of how precious this time is. I have good news, it keeps going! My 53 year old daughter and I have lots of fun and have been able to help each other through life's highs and lows. Keeping childhood alive sends a message to every cell. Notice how "old" grouches look.
Miki Henderson August 13, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Hah, water, lots of water, don't let your skin dry up girlie! I'm 30-40 years older than what people think I am. Glad I feel spunky enough to deal with this Internets thing.
Kelly Cole August 16, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Having a 5th grader is really getting to me too, Susan! It seems so clear to me now they're just on loan to us for this little window of time. When I look at my son, I see the young man in him so much more clearly than the little child. I want to shout, "No! Wait!" But then, there he is in all his splendid, sweaty boy glory, and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next!
Mike Szymanski August 16, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Beautiful thoughts Kelly! can't wait 'til your next blog :)
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