Each June, I know it’s coming.
At the end of each school year piles and piles of work get sent home. Folders. Paperclips. Cute stuff. Stupid stuff (why did you send this home, o’ teacher, WHY?!?!). Rubrics, rubrics, rubrics. Crappy worksheets. Amazing drawings. Not-so-amazing drawings. Math workbooks that are completed. Writing workbooks that are empty (in the teacher’s defense, they use a different curriculum). My kids are hunched over from the weight of their backpacks and whining.
It takes me days, but I look through each kid’s work. Every. Single. Piece. Then I select a few pieces that represent growth from the year, cuteness, who my kids were that year, and I save them.
The rest gets recycled. Buh-bye.
Sadly, I noticed that this year that the cute factor crept out of Alexandra’s work when I wasn’t looking. Now it is gone. By the end of the year, her schoolwork was just that: WORK. As much as I love to read her writing and to see her emerge as a critical thinker, it made me sad to note that academic shift. I’m sure this also has to do with her turning 8, getting her ears pierced, taking a bus to a new camp with amazing confidence…All this big girl stuff. That’s what she is now: a big girl. After being a big girl she will be a tween! Even in this essay on Goldilocks, I see her personality come out in her words (she’s such a rule follower! Get some manners, Goldilocks. Sheesh.):
Nico’s work, having just finished kindergarten, remains adorable. I could eat the pages. Everything elicits an “Awwww!” from me and a desire to show Adam how amazingly cute this one particular drawing/writing is. His misspellings are endearing, his illustrations make my heart explode, and his sweetness just oozes off the page. Everything is awesome in Nico’s world right now–love for school, learning, and his teachers screams from the dumbest of worksheets. Too bad most of us don’t remember feeling like this:
[Translation: I love my teacher. I learned to write. I learned to read. I love school. I love books.]
In musing about their years, is that how you define the shift from kindergarten to second grade? The love Nico has for school is so explicit, but for Alex, whom I know adores school and her teacher as much as Nico, it’s implicit already–it’s coded in her work and in her performance in school. Now that’s the only way to show a love of learning.
I am not an elementary educator and I bow down to those of you who work with these little guys day after day, but elementary school sure seems to get serious very quickly. Anyone else feel this way? Maybe I’m just feeling melancholy that I now have two kids in two real grades next year. Maybe second grade was serious for me, too, and I just killed those brain cells/memories in my 20’s while partying. But now I know to try to enjoy Nico’s cute work for one more year because after first grade, the gig is up and the deluge of work that will come home in June will be…different.