Sometimes it seems like we’re living life on fast forward.
Or maybe I just feel that way because I wish it would slow down, if just a little.
The thought struck me as we have approached the end of the school year. For many districts across the state, school has already let out for the 2018-19 academic year. I’m sure you’ve noticed the proliferation of high school graduation stories in the Index-Journal in the last couple weeks. It is a time-honored tradition, of course, sending those graduates out into a larger existence. I hope they’ll go forth and continue to learn, create memories, make some money, see the world. But I also hope they’ll come back and help make the Lakelands a better place. We need them.
Of course, the end of the school year is a big topic in our house, as well. My 10-year-old daughter, Charley, will finish the fourth grade on Wednesday. It was a year filled with changes, learning and realizations, for her and for me.
On my end, one of the key realizations was that my daughter is a lot smarter than I was at her age. I am, at times, blown away by the things she brings home from school, and the intricacies of the subjects she’s learning. When I was 10, I felt good if I could get through the day without getting the zipper stuck on my jacket. She’s sitting down at the dinner table and carrying on discussions about the geopolitical climate of Bosnia in the years following the breakup of Yugoslavia. When she started asking about the Croatian Defence Council, I knew I was in trouble.
Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But I am amazed at the work she was doing in her class. And, in truth, I did come to understand that this might, indeed, have been the last year I can actually help her with her math homework. Math was never my strong suit to begin with, and that was with the “old” way of doing math. She’s working with the “new” math, of course. The kind of math where every problem seems to have six extra steps and requires her to draw a detailed portrait of Ricardo Montalban off to the side. We’re at the point where she’s going to have to teach me math next year.
This was also a year in which she began to inch ever closer to being a “tweenager.” I wasn’t quite ready for that. Put it this way: I never thought I’d become so familiar with the collective works of Ariana Grande, but here we are. You haven’t lived until you’ve driven an SUV filled with 10-year-old girls who are singing “Thank U, Next” at top volume, let me assure you.
I’ve watched as her fashion sense has begun to evolve and as the books she likes to read keep getting thicker. She and several pals solidified their friendship this year by forming a “club.” They call themselves the Wolfpack. No, I’m not joking. Yes, it seems a little aggressive for fourth-grade girls. But mostly they just play a video game called Animal Jam and make Rainbow Loom bracelets for each other.
What, you haven’t entered the magical world of Rainbow Loom? Get on your knees tonight and thank God. I’m finding colorful, neon, mini rubber bands in every corner of my house.
I know I’ve been fortunate up to this point. Charley does well at school, likes going to church, enjoys playing soccer, is respectful to adults, practices kindness with other kids. Nothing’s perfect, of course, and I know those tween and teen years are in front of us. Lots of bridges yet to cross.
But fourth grade was a good year. Good for her, and good for me, too. We both learned a lot, honestly.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go practice drawing a portrait of Ricardo Montalban. I need to be able to help her with that new math next year.