When I was a little kid, I couldn’t wait for summer vacation; no more homework, no more having to wake up as early and, thus, no more bedtime curfew. More importantly, I looked forward to seeing my cousins from Chicago, who would come visit us every year.
However, now as an adult, I don’t feel the same charge of energy at this time of year. As a matter of fact, this week, which is my son’s last week of school, I have been somewhat melancholy.
It’s not so much that I’m not looking forward to spending vacation time with my family. I am anxiously awaiting my wife, kids and I driving to North Carolina this month, as we did a couple of years ago, for what was probably our nicest vacation as a family (just the five of us), and our annual extended family vacation in Sanibel in late July, where I lounge around under a large tent drinking, eating, reading and smoking cigars, while the kids play with their cousins all day.
But, what has me a bit nostalgic in recent days is the finality of another year gone by. Listen, I’m forty-seven, years are flying by faster than the Millennium Falcon fleeing the Imperial Starfleet in The Empire Strikes Back.
Adding to my end of school year blues is the fact that this past scholastic year has been particularly special in my budding relationship with my 3-year-old son. I got to spend a lot of quality time with him every morning before dropping him off at Pre-K.
Since my girls have to be in school by 7:30am, they leave with my wife. My son’s current pre-school starts at 9:00am, giving me a chance to wake him up, get him ready and take him to morning Mass with me. After Mass, we even had time to go back home to for a quick breakfast.
It was a great time of bonding. During Mass, sometimes, he would quietly lie down on the pew next to me and drink his milk. Other times he was fussy and wanted to go to the bathroom in the most inopportune time of the liturgy, or be gassy, or, like this week, wanted to be all over me and force me to carry him the entire time. But, I loved it. It was a unique one-on-one-on-One time with my son and God. We may never have another time in life, where just the two of us attend morning Mass together (at least not on a regular basis). I will miss that.
Then there is the school. It was my son's first experience with school. It’s funny how we, as humans, get attached to people, places and things. I guess it has to do with the fact that we were made for family; God’s family. Although we are just sojourners in this world and are made for our ultimate “home,” we have a natural inclination to seek “familiarity” with the people, places and things that make us feel like home.
Next year, my son will start going to school at my daughters’ Catholic school, meaning, not only will he have to be in school earlier, negating our chance to go to Mass together, but he will be attending “big kid” school.
Unless, I can talk my wife into having a fourth child, which at this point seems highly unlikely, although I haven’t given up hope, we will never set foot on our kids’ quaint intimate pre-school again.
For us, having our kids in Catholic school, where they will get a foundation of our faith, is extremely important (although we realize the faith begins at home, without which nothing learned at school will ever truly sink in). But, we will forever be indebted to the Methodist pre-school that all three of our kids first attended. Our oldest daughter went to the school for Pre-K2 and Pre-K3. Our second daughter and son went there for Pre-K3. They taught our kids about Jesus, prayer, the Bible, and most of all about unconditional love. The teachers and staff are true examples of Christian love. I will miss them.
Earlier this year, I wrote about my son’s teacher and her strict enforcement against pull-ups, which at the time seemed a bit harsh (although helped my son get fully potty trained quickly), and about her getting on me about my son drinking milk from a bottle, which to be honest, he still does in the morning (at Mass and before school!) and at night, but she turned out to be very loving and nurturing with our son. It will be difficult to say goodbye to her, as it will be to say farewell to many of the parents that I would see every morning dropping off their children in my son’s class, which, because life takes us on different paths, we may never see again.
So, while there is excitement in our household about the upcoming vacation, there is also a bit of somberness in my heart about the time gone by that will never be relived again...