The Night Before the Last Day Of School

My oldest child finishes elementary school tomorrow.

I don't know how it happened.  I swear, I just put him down for a nap in his crib half an hour ago.  Thirty minutes went by, and now he's finishing the fifth grade.  Now he stands almost nose-to-nose with me.  He uses vocabulary words I don't know. 

How did that happen?

At bedtime, after my boy reluctantly eagerly agreed to a last-minute snuggle with his wistful mom, I told him I was proud of him for something really kind and responsible he'd done earlier in the day.  I told him how I saw him becoming a man. There was a long pause; I was just sure my affirming words were melting deep into his soul, and that an equally beautiful response from him would surely burst forth. 


"Mom, cleanliness is NOT next to godliness.  I looked it up the dictionary today.  Cleanliness is next to clamGodliness is, like, 10 pages away." 

Well.  As long as we have that straightened out.

Smarty-Pants headed off to bed, only to be replaced by his younger brother.  He's facing some big decisions regarding the sport he plays, and he wanted to show us a list he's been working on–it has pros and cons, and some general observations to consider.  It was thorough, sensible, and entirely mature.  I looked at his serious face in wonder, trying to process that this is the same boy who, only three hours ago, sat at my kitchen table and tried to eat a bowl of spaghtetti without any utensils. 

(May I just publicly state for the record that I am utterly, wholly mystifed by the mind of an adolescent boy?  I have nearly given up trying.  I just smile and hug and make sure their underwear is clean.)

So after Boy #2 headed up to bed, Boy #3 (as you might guess) made his appearance.  He is finishing up the second grade–no adolesence here, no sir.  He's my baby (not my youngest, but my baby–the two aren't necessarily the same thing, and you moms know what I mean).  He curled up in my lap and I told him I'd decided he just would have to stay in second grade forever; sorry, buddy. 

"But mom, how will I go to college?" he gasped.  I reminded him he would never leave home, because I just knew his life's aim was to live with me forever and let me scratch his back and fix him mashed potatoes. 

He laughed, and I laughed, and I shooed him off to bed, his eyes so shiny with summer plans that I knew sleep wouldn't be coming soon.  It would come quickly for me, though, so exhausted am I with the end-of-year festivities.  I will crawl in my bed and dream of party favors and cupcakes.  And I'll dream of a magical potion that will let me stop time, just for a bit. 

56 thoughts on “The Night Before the Last Day Of School

  1. Stretch Mark Mama says:

    My baby (also not the youngest) turns 5 on Saturday. He promised me he would stay 4 forever. Next thing I know, he’ll be 6 and then 7 and then all the WEIRD will start. (Oh, help me face the WEIRD.)
    (And speaking of weird, my 7YO ran through the house trying to get his brother to follow the “stinker trail.” STINKER TRAIL? Ai yi yi.)
    I thought I was done with school tomorrow too. Then I took a closer look at my master list and discovered I forgot an. entire. week. of. work. Oh, I don’t know who’s gonna be more disappointed–me or the boys.

  2. Jo@Mylestones says:

    They surprise us, don’t they, with their well-crafted lists of pros and cons and mature words coming out of the same mouths that we could swear just spit up on us a few hours ago.
    My early bird 2 yr old sits with me now, my youngest and my baby, and I can barely believe the cranky squirmy infant has morphed into an independent, bagel-stuffing, smiling little chatterbox.
    If you find some of that magical potion, please do share the recipe!

  3. Becky says:

    We were just talking about this tonight. I still call V baby boy and he is almost 2. Sometimes I just do not see how my mom let us grow up. God is going to have to work on this mommy or my boys will never go to college. : )

  4. Wheezer says:

    My BoyBoy will “graduate” from the fifth grade in two weeks. I agree with you – how did that happen? Just a minute ago he was playing with trucks on the patio and telling me all about the yeyyo one. Time flies in a jet plane. Just glad I get to be a passenger!

  5. Jenn says:

    And if while you’re dreaming of that magical potion, and you happen to see the recipe/formula well write it down when you wake up and share it with the rest of us please. I would be a fan of the time stop formula. As long as it didn’t cause nose bleeds and bright flashes of light 😉

  6. Adventures In Babywearing says:

    Oh, you make me fear my three boys growing up a little less. Although- whoa- last day of elementary school? That is harsh. I already told my boys they will love going to the University less than a mile from our house. They will, right? RIGHT?!

  7. *~Michelle~* says:

    How sweet….embrace these moments as much as possible.
    …..and when you find that magical potion, I’ll be sending a self addressed stamped box your way. 😉

  8. rrmama says:

    I know what you mean! I wish Father Time would just wave his hand and time would stop. My oldest baby will be in 4th grade when school starts in August. He also turns 9 in July. Our last year in single digits! My baby baby will be in Pre-K. What did happend to thirty minutes ago when I put them down in their cribs for their naps? Darn Father Time!

  9. Lisa Q says:

    you are right…time flies too fast. it all goes by way too fast. even the stinky a blink of an eye, they’ve all grown up! enjoy your summer, it is such a magical time!

  10. AprilMay says:

    My firstborn baby is going to be a JUNIOR. In HIGH SCHOOL. That is not possible, because I was JUST THERE MYSELF! I know I’m supposed to talk to him about colleges, but the very thought of him leaving home (where he belongs) makes me FREAK OUT!

  11. d says:

    I’ve been fighting tears every time I think about my kindergartner going to school full day next fall. I can’t take this growing up stuff, its a joy but it makes me cry.

  12. Karen says:

    …and then there’s the “surrealness” of having one of my babies “graduate” to middle school and sitting in hospital waiting on number four realizing that the first three will be in college when this one enters kindergarten! Emotional roller coaster for sure!

  13. mzzterry says:

    Awww Shannon. My girls are 30 & 25 both married and I still wish for nights like the one you wrote about. How I miss them. Cherish every single moment. And if I may offer some advice, lock that “baby” in a closet….don’t let him get away!! I wish I had done that, My baby left me here in Texas and she is in California and it still breaks my heart after almost two years!
    Loved this post, as always.

  14. Lindsay Lebresco says:

    Oh you got me all teary eyed. (not hard to do but still) Your story reads like an ancient proverb or something. It’s very sweet and don’t we all wish time would just stand still on nights like that?

  15. Colleen says:

    Shannon, this post speaks directly to my heart. My baby graduates from high school next Saturday, and it feels like yesterday she was toddling about in her new baby shoes. The older our children get, the faster time seems to speed up.

  16. nicole says:

    Beautiful. And funny. And bittersweet. I know exactly what you mean by “baby” and “youngest” and the difference. We definitely have that dynamic going on here. My youngest son, but fourth child out of five, is my baby for sure. He will be four in the fall, but he makes my heart sing when he says he is not a big boy, he is a small boy. Swoon.

  17. Karen says:

    Oh, how I can relate! My darling daughter graduates elementary school (sniffle) on June 11, which is also her 11th birthday (sniffle). I’m told that over the next few years these pre-teens will drive us crazy and that, by the time they go off to college, we’ll be ready to send them. Won’t we?? (sniffle)

  18. Maureen at IslandRoar says:

    My “little boy” is 21 now. He got sunburn on his neck and I was so happy to be asked to put lotion on it for him these past few days. (sigh…)
    Enjoy the days of holding them close.Thanks so much for this heartwarming post!

  19. BlueCastle says:

    When I had my first son, I didn’t know he was going to be a boy – we wanted it to be a surprise. I never pictured myself as the mother of boys, but when I was pregnant the second time, I wanted another boy and I was glad when he arrived. I’ve never bemoaned the fact that I don’t have any girls. Boys are just so interesting. And less dramatic? 🙂 I love the way their minds work, and the way they approach life, and the way they drive me crazy. If we were to have more kids, I wouldn’t mind if they were all boys. They’re amazing creatures. And yes, they grow entirely too fast. My “baby” (who also happens to be the youngest) doesn’t let me cuddle him much anymore. And he’s so leggy, it’s hard to keep him on my lap. This mothering gig is harder than it first looked. Those moments of sadness over their receding babyness come all too often.

  20. maria says:

    The male mind is something no woman will ever understand, trust me. If my 3 boys have taught me anything, that is it. Also the underwear thing? Enjoy it while you can, my oldest came home from college a couple weeks ago, and I have some doubts about anything being washed in a long time.

  21. Mariah says:

    *sigh* This post hits home with me…my daughter finishes elementary school on Monday. She tried out and made it onto the 6th grade cheer squad…it is so bittersweet, isn’t it? On one hand, they are maturing into these amazing people and you know you had a lot to do with that. On the other hand, they aren’t “kids” anymore. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes anymore!

  22. Jessica says:

    You should seriously think about writing childrens books. You are so good at putting things into words! Thanks for sharing this special time with us bloggers!

  23. Brenda McDonell says:

    It is so great that you know how quickly life moves and enjoy each moment! Perhaps your 5th grader was just waiting for an opportunity to use that quip. I remember when a 7th grade boy that I know well replied to someone asking him if he could smoke, “No, not at all, if you do not mind if I fart.” He said, “I have been waiting for a long time for someone to ask me that question.”

  24. Karen P says:

    My oldest will also be stepping into that strange new world we call middle school next year. It’s a terrifying/exciting (terriciting?) time for a mother. Here’s to joy and courage in the journey. I guess when we find ourselves cursing the swift passage of time it’s just another reminder that we were not made for this world.

  25. Megan says:

    Shannon…it does go so quickly. My baby finished elementary school yesterday also. Strange to be done with that part of our lives, as I was so involved at the school. I know there are wonderful things in store for us as our kids grow, but it is hard to let them go sometimes!
    Hope you enjoy your summer with the kids, do something fun everyday! Thanks for your great blog, love reading it.

  26. Mrs. Q says:

    LOL…”cleanliness is not next to godliness”…sounds like something my kiddos would come up with!
    Ah yes, something to stop time…

  27. MollyB. says:

    Cleanliness is next to clam – I love it. My son just finished fifth grade, too, and as he sits next to me in the car telling me about camp, he grins. Then tells me that there’s a girl at camp who was flirting with him, but she’s cute, and funny, and a really good roller skater, so it’s ok.
    As long as he’s telling me the silly stuff, he’s still telling me about his life, and I’m hanging on to that.
    Happy Summer!

  28. Heather S. :) says:

    This was such a GREAT post! Let me know if you find that potion I want some too. As of the next school year I will have a Junior, a 6th grader, a 2nd grader, and a 2 yr old…..the time just flies!!!!

  29. Pam says:

    My baby is 40 now and her two babies are 11 and 13….oh how my heart aches for the days I was honored to provide childcare for them while their mom taught special needs children….we baked cookies, went to the zoo, made homemade musical instraments and had parades thru the house, read books, colored, painted, played hopscotch (they thought I invented it)….now she rides hoses and he plays on a football and basketball team….I still get hugs….but now they also text me or email me….where did the time go?????Pam, South Bend

  30. Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience says:

    I hear you, friend. Our oldest graduated from gr. 8 this week… then passed three grade levels of swimming to complete all levels, and now stands at the cusp of training to be a lifeguard. And this was his first weekend to attend Youth Group at the church…
    Time cracks at a Mama’s heart…
    And the only way to slow time down?
    When I fully enter into now, the weight of being fully in the moment slows time down.
    Full attentiveness is the only thing that does.
    You are, Shannon… you are.
    How I love you…
    All’s grace,

  31. Iva @ Horizontal Yo-Yo says:

    I am so with you – my baby (also not my youngest) finished up the fifth grade last Friday. Here in GA, they start middle school in the sixth grade. Don’t you feel that’s too young?!?! The only consolation I have is that he’ll be at the same school I’m teaching. Which may or not be a good thing. I havent’ decided yet.
    My baby finished up 2nd grade. She’s going into 3rd grade – armed and ready. I’m a bit sad. It seemed like just yesterday we were trying to get on a sleeping schedule…

  32. Shannon says:

    It’s posts like this that helped inspire my last post…would love for you to read it, I think it turned out well if I do say so.
    If you find that magic potion, let me know. Till then I’ve got my baby snuggled up next to me as I type.

  33. Visty says:

    My boy is also about to end 5th grade. I am not sure how to react.
    But I do know that I want a bumper sticker that says “Cleanliness is next to Clam”.

  34. Cheri says:

    My youngest starts middle school in the fall. Don’t really know how that happened. She gets to promote to the middle school youth group at church this coming weekend. She’s so excited she can’t stand it! It’ll be bittersweet for me.

  35. Cindy McLean says:

    My baby girl got engaged Saturday night. She is 25…but…still my baby girl. I called and asked her if she will still be my “Melly” after she has a new last name. She said,”yes,Mom.” One day she will know what I am talking about!!!!!!

  36. Dawn says:

    Well, I begged my 21 yr old not to grow up and darn him, he did it anyway. Same thing with the next 8 to come.
    I am currently trying to strike a deal with the 2 yr old. He’s not buying it. Man…they better start giving me some grandkids if they’re not gonna cooperate with the plan.

  37. Tracey says:

    Thanks for making me cry! I have a 20 month old and one more on the way. I can’t believe it when I think that almost 2 years have drifted by already in a blink of an eye. Ho hum.

  38. Dianne Johnson says:

    Wow…takes me back 30 years! I can only add that, you are in for the most pleasant of surprises when the Grands start coming. Just when you have forgotten all the precious quotes of years gone by, you get….Nana, will you get this booger?

  39. Melizzard says:

    What a crazy age it is when they are caught between being that baby and the teenage years. The flashes into both worlds tear at a mama’s heart because we long to have both our cake and eat it too.

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