A long time coming.
(Jack, Maggie, Ben - Colorado, 2010)
Well, here we go again. "Page Turning Time". Brace yourself for Mom's tears and Dad's sighs of disbelief and everyone else's "Really??? That was fast!"
In a couple short days, the kids close out another school year, but this time, it has a little different feel to it. Maggie, wrapping up 5th grade, represents the last of our kids to leave our beloved Cedar Park Elementary for the last time. Off she goes to middle school next year.
Due to a construction project, Benny is closing his chapter at Valley Middle a year early, and will head off to the High School. Jack is staying put, but going into his junior year, his schedule is already full of AP and college courses. He may as well have one drumstick out of the nest by now.
It's getting real up in this piece.
I've been dwelling on all of this for pretty much the last 9 months or so, which is quite unlike me. Maybe it's the Y chromosome, but while Mom bawled and commiserated with other bawling Moms, I hardly felt a thing sending them off to pre-school or kindergarten or any of those other places and adventures.
I came to realize a while back that part of the reason I was like that, and that this is hitting me like this is because I don't worry much about where they're going, but I really like where they are in the here and now. It's maybe the worst-kept secret in the world, since I say it out loud shamelessly, that I wish Maggie would just stay 10 years-old forever. "Birthday? Canceled!" I say. But they come and go despite my protests. With the minor annoyances I gripe about loudly, I love these guys as they are right now. What's the rush to move on?
Back to Cedar Park. One thing I just haven't been able to fully accept is just how much I'm going to miss that school. From Day 1, it has been everything we could have asked for, and a million times more, in a launching pad for the kids. These kids are where they are because there's a whole crew of exceptional people that got them started in the right direction.
So I'd like to publicly share a letter I sent to the school, asking that it be forwarded to the entire staff. It was a few months of typing out thoughts, setting them aside, reworking, and so forth.
In sharing it, I'm not only singing the praises of the school, but also memorializing how I'm feeling at this point in time. I'm also hoping that teachers, school staff members, volunteers, and others involved in caring for children in all walks of life beyond Cedar Park feel some appreciation for the role you play in our lives.
To All of the Teachers, Administrators, and Each and Every Staff Member at Cedar Park:
Congratulations on another year! I hope you all enjoy your summer, be it continuing to work, study, or relax.
The end of this school year is a bittersweet time for me and our family, and something that I’ve thought about for a long time now. The close of this school year marks the end of our time with kids at Cedar Park. With Jack, Ben and Maggie moving up to the high school and the middle school – and inching towards college – it’s a period of reflection for our family…on parenting, on education, and everything else that goes into the joyful and terrifying job of raising kids nowadays.
It’s important for me, at this time, to express the incredible amount of gratitude I have for Cedar Park and the impact that this school – and ALL of you – have had on the lives of our kids.
Ten years ago, we had this super-curious, intelligent little pre-school kid on our hands. We didn’t know much about parenting then, but we knew we needed to find a place that was a good “fit” for him and his seemingly brilliant little mind. Within moments of walking into Cedar Park, we had a strong sense that this was the place for him…and for us.
Terri Franklin welcomed Jack into his classroom and his academic life. What a great way to get started!
Beginning with Terri and Jack, and continuing throughout our entire time at Cedar Park, our kids have been in such amazing and capable hands. The expertise and care invested in each of their academic roadmaps – while nurturing hundreds of other kids – have given us so much comfort and confidence as our children have grown and navigated challenges.
As you see Jack, Ben and Maggie around the community, besides noticing how tall and grown up they are getting, you might also notice a look of purpose, confidence, and hope on their faces. Each has huge, fantastic dreams and goals, and Cedar Park has laid the foundation for them confidently pursuing them.
We are so thankful that, at every turn, our kids’ gifts, curiosity, and unique personalities (and challenges) were nurtured and guided so expertly and thoughtfully. A decade ago, if you asked us to draw up the perfect elementary school situation for our kids, we never could have even conceived an experience at the level Cedar Park has given us.
I want to thank you all – deeply – for rising to the challenges with our kids when they came up. Of teaching our kids boundaries when needed, guiding them, and helping them understand how to channel their newly discovered emotions appropriately. Even when our kids were frustrating – and I know they can be at times – each of you guided them gently, without quashing or shutting down qualities that someday will be paramount to their place in the world.
All three of our kids – the most precious parts of our lives – are positioned for a BRILLIANT life. Every morning we walk our kids to the bus or drive them to school; and we essentially place their lives in your hands. We owe you so much gratitude for caring for them so well.
I’d also like to add that there are a lot of people at Cedar Park that may not have “directly” taught or interacted with our kids. I recognize that a school is an ecosystem. I’m thankful to EVERY person, past and present, that help make this school work. Custodians, health staff, office staff, nutritional staff, specialists, volunteers, and so on. We know that you ALL look out for and support our kids. And if you aren’t involved with our kids, you support each other and keep each other sane.
This is important. I asked that Mr. Garcia pass this note on to each and every staff member at Cedar Park. Thank you ALL for everything you do.
In our 10+ years at Cedar Park, we have always been greeted warmly and made to feel like we are a valued part of the Cedar Park community.
In reflecting on our years at Cedar Park coming to a close, I was repeatedly struck with the notion that in 10-plus years, dealing with some of the most intimate and important matters related to raising our children, I can’t think of a SINGLE TIME I had an interaction or experience at Cedar Park that was negative, disappointing, or left me wishing it had gone differently.
Think about that for a minute. Not one single negative experience or moment in 10 years.
I have ALWAYS been greeted warmly here.
I have always felt respected and cared for, and that my kids were well taken care of.
Discipline and challenging situations were always handled compassionately and fairly.
I’ve always felt 100% confident in the quality of their education.
I never felt like anyone at Cedar Park didn’t absolutely love what they are doing.
The end of Maggie’s school year might end our direct involvement with having kids at Cedar Park, but I will never stop feeling grateful for all of you. As they thrive in their academic and personal lives – I know they will, and I can’t wait to see how – I will always see this school and all of you in their successes. YOU have put them on a path to great things….thank you so much.
If you remember nothing else from this super-long letter, please know that you are deeply appreciated for what you do. If you’re ever in doubt about the difference you are making, or if you are valued, pull this letter from your desk drawer. Or call me and I’ll be happy to repeat it. You are doing great and important work here.
Thank you for making a positive impact on MY life, and I will be your – and Cedar Park’s – biggest fan as you continue doing what you do.
(Jack, Ben, Maggie - Florida, 2016)