I've done so much thinking this year my head hurts. Or is it my heart?
You see, I knew on the very first day of third grade that this year would be different. I couldn't put my finger on it, but when I dropped Will off at his classroom that day I just sensed this was somehow a turning point.
In kindergarten, even in first grade, everything was cute and sweet and fun. In second grade, things got more serious: the homework a little harder, the responsibilities a bit more daunting.
To me, third grade has felt a bit like no-mans land.
I've noticed this year that the parent-teacher relationship is a bit different. There aren't as many invitations to class and the chit-chat is limited. Don't get me wrong: I still do book -n- bite on Wednesdays and I consider Will's teacher top-notch. (and he adores her, which is a plus!). So, this isn't a negative commentary on the teachers - not at all.
Like life, relationships change. At times this year, I felt like an outsider as I dropped Will off at his classroom, but I've come to realize what's happening. The teachers are teaching the students to be responsible for themselves. Now their focus is completely on the students, as it should be.
Then there's the testing. This has been the year of the BOGs, the EOGs ... and whatever acronym you want to throw in there! I'm fortunate that Will doesn't seem to get too rattled about these kinds of things. However, my friends have told me about their stressed out kids and it breaks my heart. No elementary school-aged child should be stressed out about tests! Come on, it's elementary school people!
I could go on about the little changes I've noticed in third grade ... but, I suppose, the biggest one has perhaps been the most subtle one. It's the one I didn't even realize was taking place until I stopped to reflect on this year. It's the letting go.
Every day, Will is growing a little more independent. Every day, he's becoming more confident. Every day, he's making more and more of his own decisions. Every day, he's letting go.
That's why days like the one I experienced last week are so very precious to me. I was outside in the garden when I heard "Mama, mama, mama!" I looked up and there was Mike walking Will home from school. Will broke into a full-speed sprint until he nearly ran right into me. He was breathless and absolutely beaming. Then he told me about a good grade he'd gotten on an essay test.
For that moment, he was still my little boy.
So, as third grade comes to a close, I suppose I feel a sense of sadness as I realize just how quickly we've blown through the halfway point of elementary school. But, then I think of something Will often tells me: "Chin up, mama! We've got more memories to make!"
Julia is the mom of a grader schooler and a reporter for WRAL-TV. She appears here monthly.