This week we find ourselves saying a lot of good-byes. While we can’t wait for that final bell to ring, signalling the end of another year and the start of the lazy days of summer, it’s bittersweet. Because every year we grow attached to another set of amazing teachers. They’ve guided our kids, gone above and beyond to see them succeed, we’ve grown accustomed to their way of doing things and so, saying good-bye is never easy. Though having five boys over 13 years technically means we might never be saying good-bye. By the time Levi (who is still chomping at the bit to start kindergarten) heads to middle school, chances are we’ll be sucked back in to the elementary as grandparents attending Grandparents Day! 

Galloping past milestones

This year, we are sending our first kid to make his way in the world far beyond the walls of ACS, so the good-byes for him are much more final. I’ve never been great at good-byes, a trait I inherited from my father. I’m impressed by folks who look ahead with anticipation and greet each new stage with enthusiasm. I tend to be one of those people with whip lash from always looking back, pulling hard on the reins, trying to slow the runaway horses that are galloping past milestone after milestone in my kids’ lives.

But good-byes are unavoidable and we’ve been saying them all year, marking the “last” of so many things. We’ve navigated our first grad banquet and watched as the slideshow flashed the cutest little redhead and his two-year-old grin across the screen, all while playing sappy music meant to tug at the heartstrings.

Steve sat ready with the Kleenex, expecting the waterworks but, let me just state for the record, I was cool as a cucumber. And quite proud of it I might add.

Not that there’s anything wrong with tears and looking back, but I’ve really been enjoying tossing those tissues to the curb as I revel in my new found enthusiasm and anticipation of the future. And I think both of my men were pleased to hang out with this dry eyed version of me. Never one to pass up the opportunity to tease his wife a little, Steve has been forced to pursue other hobbies. He can’t find a chink in this armour! 

No Stage Fright Here

And so, last week, when Vince VanDyk asked me and Steve if we would send off the graduates at the athletic celebration night with a prayer for their future, we didn’t hesitate. Public speaking/praying is not something either of us find comfortable. ACS may be big on teaching our kids the value of public speaking and presenting but thus far, they haven’t held a class for all of us parents who have perfected the art of stage fright.

But we decided to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone and grab hold of this opportunity to send Caleb and his friends off with a blessing. It was a privilege and an opportunity we didn’t want fear to let us miss out on. And besides with my new bent toward the stoic and with Steve “The Rock” Brandsma next to me, it was sure to go off without a hitch.

And though our knees were knocking when the evening came to a close, we were ready; Steve with his little send off speech and me with my prayer. We scoffed at the tissues left at our table. People with less control might need those, but not me. And true to my prediction, I had no need of those tissues…but they sure could have come in handy for the poor man choking up next to me.

My “rock” had crumbled.

A bizarre turn of events to say the least. I guess those tears had to come out somehow and since I had turned over a new leaf, my partner in life; for richer/poorer, in sickness/health, in good times/bad, was left baffled by the unfamiliar wetness in the corners of his eyes as he struggled to make it through the end of his speech.   

One Tough Nut

Good-byes can be challenging and I’m comforted to know I’m not the only one who struggles with them.  But while new stages and milestones should be celebrated and trying to keep a tight grip on the moments passing us by is futile, it’s okay to shed a tear at the good-byes we inevitably must say. 

So I’ll keep my Kleenexes handy because even the toughest nuts can crack when least expecting it. 

And believe me, if my new stoic facade should suddenly crack under the pressure during Aiden’s grade 5 farewell this week, I will simply shrug my shoulders as my six “men” look at me with eyebrows raised and say, “Ya well, Dad cried first!”