Friday, June 11, 2010


I gave my students back their Portrait Projects this morning, and our separation has begun. There will be some teary goodbyes on Tuesday, I think, here at my school, and for my two little girls saying goodbye to their school for good. They have mixed feelings about switching, but no matter what the anticipation of the summer, they have inheirited their mother's issues with endings. And I can't even pick them up on the last day to facillitate those last moments, because I'm not allowed to leave school until after they have been long dismissed. Andrea is going to manage that for me, taking them to say goodbye to the playground and the sign and their favorite tree, or whatever they need. I know she will honor that transition so well for them, and's just one of those moments when I just wish I could be there, be the Mommy.

Here at my school, there are a number of rituals that mark the end of the year. One is that when the kids leave, all of the staff walks out with them, and we go all the way down to the end of the long driveway and wave goodbye to all of the busses, and the kids all wave back, and the bus-drivers honk their horns like mad...and only once have we ever been mooned, so that's a pretty good record, I think. Then we have a chicken luncheon, which consists of a plate with a giant chicken on it, and a potato. It's surprisingly delicious, and also sort of creepy to see so many bones devoured and disposed of. Then I finish packing up my classroom, and then comes my favorite partner, Lori, has the world's most beautiful home. It is directly on the cliff overlooking the Atlantic ocean, and she has a beautiful back porch and a gorgeous yard and a cool porch right on the very edge. Most of the staff of my floor comes together for festive beverages, and the girls can climb all the way down the long staircase to the beach, and climb "alone" on the rocks (while we adults can see them from our perch on the porch.) I love to watch them down there in their seeming solitude, looking in tide pools and clamoring to the tops of the huge rocks. We return to that same spot for July 3rd to watch the bonfires and fireworks, and it's become a really special place for our family. I love love love my teaching partner, who's part wise tribal medicine woman, part Demeter, goddess of the earth, and part her own inner-22-year old who still sees life as a grand adventure. We couldn't seem more different on the surface, but our partnership is one of the most symbiotic, comfortable, complementary relationships I've ever had.

Anyway, we have a lovely relaxing afternoon sitting there right smack on the ocean, and then my husband takes me out for my first lobster of the year.

The girls and I have created a tradition for our first day of summer vacation. (I know...shocking.) The idea is that we each get to choose one special thing that makes us happy, and we all do it together. There have been various things chosen over the years, such as manicures, visits to particular playgrounds, movies, that sort of thing. My pick is always the same, every year. I want to drink coffee in my pajamas and watch Summer Magic, that 1960's Disney flick with Hayley Mills. It couldn't be cornier, and the girls aren't crazy about it, but they indulge me, 'cause it's my pick. This year, Abby has chosen a trip to the American Girl Doll store (knowing she won't be able to buy anything, but just to "go" there to visit everything. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? Of course I'll buy her something.) Amelia has chosen Shrek the Third in 3D. Luckily, there's a 3D/Imax theatre right near the American Girl Doll store, so we're in business. I especially want to focus on the celebratory aspect of summer this year, rather than letting them wallow in the sadness of letting go.

Lisa asked me a question this week that I've been thinking really hard about. She said, "What will you learn this summer, Kelly? You always learn something in the summer, I think." She's so right, and I'm really rolling that over in my mind, and drafting my thoughts about it.

So, I pose the question out to you...what will YOU learn this summer?


  1. I have already learned to accept that people are who they are and to stop expecting them to be different. Now I need to learn to accept that I am who I am, and stop expecting myself to be someone I am not. And I want to teach that to my children as well.

  2. Hey Kelly,
    Did I miss something? I thought the girls got to stay at their school when you got the house. Where are they going to school next year?

    My (pre)occupations this summer will be:
    ... trying to find an exercise that appeals to me (something more strenuous than reading)
    ...taking more classes to eek out more money
    ...trying to let my daughter go back to NYC without me again
    ...hoping my son can leave without anger
    ...letting go of parenting regrets
    ...planning games for my future mathematicians
    ...continue to turn my head away quickly from any more images of oil-drenched animals trying desperately to survive

    What I will learn from these activities:
    - a way to hold on to some level of "food sobriety"
    -something useful to employ in my practice
    -how to find joy in my oldest baby bird flying away independently
    -how to trust in the lessons I've already taught (that so far haven't been applied) by my last baby bird
    -I will accept the lesson that my children have minds of their own(an ongoing saga)
    -learn how to be the best surrogate mom to one hundred freshly minted mathematicians by finding ways to keep them (and me!) interested in what I'm teaching
    -learn to pray every day that this amazing planet we inhabit finds a way to cleanse itself of this horrible man-made blight on its beautiful watery face.

    Oh Sweet Summertime!

  3. Elise, I love you. It was love at first sight.

    AmySue, I think you are so brave. I read a long time ago that to be a parent is to permanently have your heart walking around outside your body. I understand that now, and though I can't be in your shoes, I have been close enough to're brave, my friend. And you are doing so well and loving so much. Thank you for sharing.