I had a little talk with this girl last week. My big girl, who was just a kindergartner the last time I looked. I remember that talk, too...
The morning was misty. So were my eyes. I couldn't believe that five years had flown by so quickly and she was ready to start school. She had spent every school day with my grandparents... my mommy's heart, even my TEACHER-mommy's heart, couldn't imagine that those teachers could take care of her the way she needed. I was scared to see her walk away into that building. And I knew how much the thirteen year journey ahead mattered for her, knew that this was the start of her becoming that baby-girl-woman. So, I did what I do-- I talked.
I explained to her how important it was for her to take school seriously. I told her she should enjoy it and develop and maintain a thirst for knowledge. I expressed my own love for reading and how it would always open a new world to her. I emphasized the fact that she was representing Jesus and our family, that the most important detail was how she treated others, that she always should show kindness to those around her. I talked for probably ten or fifteen minutes as she listened intently, her little face solemn in concentration. I closed with, "Do you understand, Emma?"
Emma: "Mommy? It's so foggy out there I can hardly even see those cows."
OK. Good talk, then.
Again, though, I've looked up and found that we are again coming to an ending and a beginning. As she takes those final steps toward the ending of a journey at Mayfield, a journey on which those teachers did take care of her the way she needed, even better than I ever imagined. I realized that the talk I give my second semester seniors is a valuable one for my kindergartner-turned-fifth-grader whose footsteps will soon be only an echo in the halls of a place that has been like home for six years.
Through some tears, I admonished her to finish what she started. It's easy sometimes to lose sight of the finish line when we get too close to it. I encouraged her to stay focused and strong academically. I explained that sometimes we get a little bit of a big head at the end and can forget the ones who got us here, reminded her that she is a product of Mrs. Burton and Mrs. Dotson and Ms. Mason and Mrs. Steward and Ms. Cooper and now Mr. Brown and Mr. Rogers and Mrs. McMahan and Mrs. Strother. It took heart and soul from each of them to pour into her to get her to this point. Keep smiling at and hugging those former teachers in the halls. Don't forget the ones that brung you. ;) We talked about the fact that, fair or not, the last impressions are the ones that stick. You can be the most wonderfully perfect student/person all the way through, but if you blow it at the end, that's how you will be remembered. Trust me. There are some very accomplished persons I see in town and all I can think of is the way they ended their time in the walls of my school. And then that kindness... the same kindness we hopefully started on. I know she's getting to the age where it might not seem as cool to be friendly to certain people and I so desperately want her to rise above that and remain that sweet kid whose preschool teacher told me she never made a distinction between people, whose early grade teachers often partnered her with a challenging student because she was so good with him. I talked, and this time, she did more than listen. She talked too, and we shared stories and experiences. It breaks my heart
But I sure am glad there were no cows around this time.