Wednesday morning Buddy moved a little slower and with a loss of his usual pep. It was his last day of 5th grade.
“Man, I feel sorry for you Brother!” Bug declared. “You are missing out on a whole day of learning!”
Our district lets 5th graders out a day early, however, Bug was missing the point.
“I’m not sad that it’s summer. I’m sad because now I go to Middle School and most of my friends are going to a different middle school than I am. Plus Mr. F was the best teacher I ever had.”
Last night the school hosted a beautiful Continuation Ceremony. They don’t call it graduation here, which I love! They will graduate from high school. Right now they are continuing on their education. The ceremony began with the kids marching in. Some looked thrilled that this moment had come. Others, like Buddy, walked in with hunched shoulders, limp arms and the longest faces you’d ever seen. Several kids performed songs on the piano. A few girls danced while their friend sang. Sort of a mini talent show that the performers had to try out for. They all did wonderfully! Awards for excellence were passed out and then a video that our librarian had put together was played. It was called Your Three Words. The kids made posters with a word on it that, when put together, made a statement. Buddy came out and held a sign that said “Always.” Then his friend came out, tossed him a ball and held up a sign that said “Remember.” Then Buddy tossed the ball back and they unfolded a bigger sign that had their school’s name on it. The whole video was like that, friends playing together, hugging and sharing their thoughts in three words. Early on in the video, Bug laid his head in my lap and cried. I mean, boo-hooed sobbing.
“Aw Bug, why are you crying?” I asked as I comfortingly rubbed his back.
“I don’t want Brother to go to another school!”
I kissed him and giggled a little.
“You do know that he will still live with us, right?”
Mom’s and Dad’s alike were fighting tears or letting them roll. It was a bitter-sweet moment.
After all the kids had crossed the stage, they all went back up to sing a song accompanied by Buddy’s teacher, Mr. F. At the end of the song, they all came out to their parents to give them a flower and a thank you note. I chose to save my note for home. I knew it would be another tear jerker.
Buddy was so sad. He came to hug me and shed a few tears. I kissed his cheeks and reminded him that this was a great time and great new things were on the horizon. There was a cake reception and that helped. Buddy ate cake and got all of his friend’s phone numbers and emails. Lots of pictures were taken of Buddy with his friends, arm over shoulder. Once home, Man and I went into our room and sat on our bed to read Buddy’s thank you note. It was four pages long:
Dear Mom and Dad,
This is the worst day of my life. I have to leave My Elementary School, the best school in Colorado, to go to a middle school without five of my dearest friends, where there’s the small kids like us stuck with people who are already shaving and a few even smoking. But, I will always remember My School, I thank you for helping me through it. I really enjoy that Dad is willing to help me with new and extremely hard math problems. I’d also like to thank Mom for helping me as well. Although you don’t know math, you suggest some of the best solutions to my problems. But most of all, I’m glad that you put up with the word searches and coded words because I know you wanted to tear those like a movie star rips up a bad contract. Please enjoy your well-deserved, long-waited-for thanks that awaits you in this letter.
You have helped me through all of my years at My School, from 3rd to 5th grade. No doubt, I couldn’t have survived through school without you. I remember how beautiful Mom’s art project for Mr. F’s class was. It was so much fun and I really thought it was the most interesting art project ever. The Revolutionary War re-enactment battle we did with “You Can Live History” is an experience of which I would give up so much to relive. Thank you so much, Dad, for paying $73 for the field trip and movie recording of the day. Day In Denver was fun, but we had to earn money for food and drink. Thankfully, you had plenty of laundry, yard work, and other chores for me to do to earn it. 4th grade was the longest and hardest year of my life, filled with unfinished work, misunderstandings, and the most terrible tasting herb ever. If it wasn’t for you, I would still be with Mr. D’s fourth graders. Thank you for helping me from the first day of third grade to now, May 29, 2013. My last day at My School.
Everyone needs help and it’s not always with school. You have helped me through many things not involving My School. First, I would like to thank you for driving me to soccer, which is hard knowing that we have to leave right after school to get there on time. Next, I would like to thank you, Mom, for sewing a bicycle light onto my Iron Man costume in third grade. It made it both realistic and fun and cars were able to see me. Thank you, Dad, for taking me to Take Your Child To Work Day. It was very fun and I learned a lot about oil and Your Company. Finally, I would like to thank you both for planning the best birthday party ever. Sorry about my friend almost clubbing our neighbor dressed in a gorilla suit…
School or not you have helped me thought out my life. Every time a moon wanes out, a new one waxes. (This isn’t entirely true.) Elementary school is over, and middle school is beginning. Although I got plenty of fours, and I will be in advanced math, I will still need your help. In every grade, especially 6th, 7th, and 8th, I will continuously ask for your grown-up advice. I know that you will do your best to assist me on my journey. I would rather be your son than be the first son of the Queen of England. Please know that I will always love you and that I’ll forever remember how you helped me through My School.
Well, that’ll get your heart, I don’t care who you are! The next morning Buddy was up at 6 a.m, e-mailing all of his friends. Here, the 5th graders get out a day earlier than the rest of the grades so Bug still had to go to school. Buddy wanted me to drive Bug in so he could walk the halls one more time and say a few more good byes. Bug had a huge potted plant to give to his teacher and so Buddy helped him get it to her class. Bug’s teacher was Buddy’s teacher his first year here in Colorado. I had some PTA things to attend to in the front office and so I kind of lost track of Buddy after that. I figured he’d be with Mr. F so I headed for his room. He wasn’t there so I had an opportunity to thank him again.
“It was an honor to have him in class. Such a great kid! He sent me the nicest e-mail this morning,” Mr. F informed me.
“Really? I had no idea! That’s great!”
“Did you read his thank you note. That’s the best one I’ve read in my six years here.”
I tried to find Buddy next door in Mr. D’s room, his old 4th grade teacher. He wasn’t there.
“He sent me the sweetest e-mail this morning,” Mr. D said. “Did you read it?”
“No. He was up at 6 a.m. sending them out apparently. I thought he was just e-mailing his friends. I had no idea he was e-mailing teachers too!”
I continued down the hall, figuring that Buddy would show up somewhere. It’s not that big of a school… I peeked into Ms. S’s room. He wasn’t there.
“He is so special! I’m so sad he’s going but look forward to time with Bug. What different boys!” she marveled. “Buddy sent me a really sweet e-mail this morning. Did you read his thank you note?”
“We did. We read it at home and had a good cry. It was beautiful!”
“It was! I wondered if you read it at the Continuation Ceremony or if you’d wait. I couldn’t even look at certain people because I knew I’d lose it. Will he be in gifted classes in Middle School?”
“Just for math.”
“Oh good! That’s perfect. He’s going to do great. And here he is!”
I turned to see that Buddy had caught up with me. He said good-bye again to Ms. S and they thanked one another. Buddy slipped his hand into mine as we headed down the hall.
“You were busy this morning,” I said. “I’ve heard that you’ve sent quite a few e-mails out to your teachers. That’s very nice of you, Buddy. They loved it.”
“I just want to say goodbye one more time to a few more teachers,” he said. He led me to Mr. D’s room. I so wanted to go in and to hear what they would say to one another but I felt like maybe this was some man to man time that Mommy might not should loom in the back ground for. After a few minutes, Buddy emerged from Mr. D’s room.
“Almost done Mom!” he said as he moved on to Mr. F’s room. Again, I waited out in the hall. I could hear chuckles and low conversation and then Buddy exited his 5th grade room for the last time. He wiped at his eyes and we left His School.
“You’ll always remember your time here and they will always remember you,” I reminded him. Each teacher there has touched his life, inspired him and helped him grow but, just as I looked for Buddy in room after room and found that he wasn’t there, he seems to have left his mark as well.