Fifth Grade. FIFTH grade. An elder this year in her 4/5th class, her first words out of bed this morning were, " I'm so excited, I could throw up." The last five years of going and returning to school were a definite transition. In years past, I accompanied her to the classroom and took the role of the segue between home life and school life. I held her hand, organized her supplies, helped her understand directions, let her sit in my lap and hugged her repeatedly before I left her at school the first day. I distinctly felt this period of letting go of her time with me and watched her slowly accept being away from me and comfortable at school all day. She was hesitant, tentative, but willing, and this always gave me a way to participate in her transition into school. She needed me; she looked to me to get her there. The return to school included ME helping her ease in.
This year, her fifth grade year, she did it alone. I drove her to school and walked her in. Before we even got to the front door, we separated in the crowd and she emerged behind me with a friend, smiling and giggling and entering school without me by her side. She bounced down the hall, comfortable in her school, with her people and herself. She wasn't dismissive or avoiding, she was just fine on her own. So, I stepped back and let her walk away with her friends. She didn't look back and she didn't ask where I was going. She knew where to go and how to get there.
She came home from school tired, but very happy with her day. She said she really liked her teacher and she can't believe she is an elder. I feel this space between us, but it is filled with independence and confidence, not distance. While in the past we walked side by side, I feel now we must negotiate this space and learn to dance around it. She needs the space to grow and build her personal life. She needs this space to come back to and feel loved and accepted. Eventually, we will enter this space from different sides to find common ground and meet in the middle. I'm sure there will be times when we both stay on our sides of the space without knowing how or wanting to enter. I smile at all of this knowing the years by her side created this comfortable, open space between us. And for now, I'll look back at the years when she needed me and get ready to start all over again with Sadie.