Each year springtime is a rite of passage for the youth. Prom, end of year school activities, graduations- this year was to be no different. Except it is. The world is at a pause and life is very much unlike what we all imagined this spring would be.
All the disappointment and missed moments feel palpable.
I don’t have a senior in my home who will be missing out on the culmination of their academic career, but I do have a very disappointed fourth grader who is missing out on the end of her primary school career.
The fourth-grade year in our district is a huge time.
Our primary school goes from kindergarten to fourth grade. This year is my daughter’s fourth-grade year. It is the end of an era for her. This is the year where she says goodbye to the building we left her in one August morning five years ago at the start of kindergarten. This is the year she moves on from the walls she has felt safe in.
Fourth grade was supposed to be a big year and there is so much we have been looking forward to.
At the end of the year is the annual Spring Spectacular. It is a fun day for all the primary school kids. They have carnival games, bounce houses, track and field events, and raffles and treats. It is pretty much the most fun day of the year. This was to be her last one. I was going to volunteer for the whole day so I would get to experience it with her. We won’t get another chance for that.
The fourth-grade class also puts on a talent show each spring. My child has literally been planning her talent show performance for the last couple of years. She had it all worked out in her head. Now she won’t get the chance to share it and I won’t get the chance to see her perform it in front of her classmates and school.
There was the BIG field trip she won’t be going on. Every spring our school’s fourth-graders get to go and spend a day at Sauder Village. It is an exciting day and both her dad and I were planning on signing up to chaperone and experience it with her. But that won’t come to be. Sure, I could take her when it is safe to go and I might, but it isn’t the trip she was looking forward to with her friends.
Of course, there was the biggest event, the pinnacle of the fourth-grade year: the Fourth Grade Bridging. This is a “graduation” ceremony where the students walk across the stage in front of their parents and peers leaving behind their primary school principal to shake the hand of the awaiting middle school principal. My daughter is sad not to get this moment. To be honest, as much as I was dreading the ugly crying I know I would be doing in the audience, I am sad too.
There are also all the little, memorable, and last moments that will be missed too.
She will not have a last lunch with friends or a last run around the playground at recess. My daughter won’t have a chance to say goodbye to all the faculty and staff she has come to know so well in the last five years. She won’t have a last day of duty on the safety patrol or a last student ambassador meeting. There will not be that last day, the last time walking out of the building as a student there.
I hate that my daughter’s last day of primary school will be spent sitting at my dining room table and not at her desk in her classroom. Our school is going to make some version of these end of year events happen. It is nice and I know the students appreciate it, but it also isn’t the same.
It isn’t what we planned or looked forward to.
The day our governor announced that the school buildings would not reopen this academic year I held my daughter as she sobbed for twenty minutes. She cried out of disappointment and out of sadness. She was grieving for the closure she won’t get.
Now, I know these moments will be a drop in the bucket in a life full of moments – some that will be much, much bigger. I know there are lessons to be taught in this: rolling with the punches, dealing with disappointments, and gratefulness to name a few.
But we are not there yet.
Right now, my daughter is heartbroken that her fourth-grade year is ending this way. These are moments and experiences that she will never get back. They can never be replaced. She is 100% entitled to her feelings.
Someday, when we are on the other side of this and we are looking back, we’ll find the lessons and we’ll embrace the curves life and COVID-19 tossed us.
For now, I will just embrace her.