Dr.Q does … closing chapters

In the spring I tend to get restless.  I have since I was in middle school.  For weeks I wrestle and wrangle with impatience and generally feeling like a butterfly struggling out of its cocoon.  It isn’t really related to the weather, specifically, just the spring.

Once that passes, I am often confronted with the end of things.  As a teacher, I experience the end of things every 16 weeks or so.  But something about the end of things in the spring feels more permanent.

I am constantly disappointed with the anti-climatic nature of the last day of college classes – I used to prepare broad sweeping summaries of the semester, detailing what I hoped students took out of the class and how it relates to the important questions we face in the world.

Then both students and I realized this wasn’t on the exam, so it just became an exercise for myself.

Then I went through a phase where we were supposed to have a party on the last day of class with food and snacks and what not.  This was fun but expensive and logistically complicated.

So now I just say, hey thanks for being a great class.  Add me to your LinkedIn.  On yeah and there’s a final next week.  Here’s what it’s about.

So, I’ve backed off my end-of-the-semester game.

But as my kids have gotten older, I realized my first instinct was correct.  Things end.  Things change, and they are never the same way again.  They will never sit in their classroom with this one beloved teacher and read together again.  Their dance instructor will never guide them back to their spot while practicing for this one recital again.

We’re also moving across the country this summer, so the end of things this year, is especially bittersweet.

I submitted my grades, handled the relatively few issues in response to those grades, emptied my office – I’m starting a new position in the fall.  Related to these things, I felt very little.  Long ago I had grieved over this job, leaving it, and the necessity to move on.  On this matter, I am thrilled to be moving on, and cannot wait to get started in my new position.

But as I pumped the kids up about the move, encouraging them to enjoy things as we have them now, which is really rather good, I forgot I might need to grieve for the rest of what we were leaving behind.

We live in a fantastic neighborhood.  It’s beautiful with mature trees and safe streets.  We know our neighbors and talk with them regularly.  They’ve watched our kids grow and pet their dogs for years now.

There is out there in the world an amazing set of dedicated gymnastics coaches, and dance teachers, and classroom teachers, and librarians, and friends who have come to know my kids and my family who we are leaving behind.

And I realized, as I was crying in the shower the other day, all the teacher appreciation gifts and cards and hugs and pictures and last play dates weren’t going to take away the sadness of leaving things behind.

I hope the kids are less sad about it than I am but slightly more sad about it than they seem.  My little people constantly wish things were different than they are – do they appreciate what they have?

When it’s winter, they demand summer.  As summer creeps up on us, they whine for cooler weather.  Appreciate what we have now, I say.  Take what you can from this, as it will change.

In this change, we’re sacrificing things, ideally for the long game, regarding housing.  We may not be in the best elementary school.  We’ll be commuting to work.  But thankfully lots of the kids’ activities can be right in our neighborhood.  Perhaps this makes me overly wistful as we prepare to go.

In a few short weeks, this chapter of the lives at Chez Quenette will close, and a new one will begin.  It is exciting and enticing but challenging in the same breath.

Appreciate what you have, when you have it.  And embrace what the future holds.

**Edited to add: While I wrote this my kid was apparently using the outside faucet that for some reason is in the garage.  He left it run for about an hour, thinking it would “turn off”.  So I spent the rest of the afternoon drying a lake in the garage, bathroom, and carpeted hallway.  Nice.


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