Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Goodbyes, Small and Large

We have almost reached the end of year thirteen at Cal Poly, and as usual it is time to say goodbye to students, staff and interns who are moving forward to their own adventures. It's hard to imagine what life will be like without some of them, but then who would want to stay in college forever? Well, maybe Jamey and I would....that's why we like our jobs so much! (For example, last weekend I went to TWO Cal Poly baseball games - awesome!) All of the goodbyes, celebrations, and reminiscing have made me feel oddly sentimental and nostalgic.
To make it even more difficult on myself, I got seven boxes of 'stuff' from our homeschooling days down out of the attic to sort through yesterday. Friends of mine are writing a book about our little co-op, and needed some pictures of our projects and materials (plus, I admit it, we are old now, and can't just remember everything we did, so we needed to look through papers and workbooks to remember the names of publishing companies we used). My friend Sara and I had so much fun looking through the boxes and remembering what amazing things we were able to do. We visited museums, tidepools, deserts, and artists' studios. When the kids studied the moon, we did fun projects during the day, and then hung out on one family's trampoline for a couple of hours at night, gazing at the moon and talking to each other. When Grace learned about Egyptian history, she made cuneiform tablets out of clay and wrote her name in hieroglyphics. Jason was allowed to pick out his science topic every year, so we have amazing projects on insects, spiders, amphibians, reptiles, and the ocean. And don't even get me started on the art - most of it is actually framed and hanging in our house.
I ended up throwing away most of the 'busywork' items - math worksheets, grammar books, spelling lessons, etc., but kept the really good stuff - one box for each child. Later that night our family had fun glancing through the boxes and seeing how far the kids have come. I think my greatest desire was that I wanted my kids to learn how to think for themselves (you wouldn't believe how rare this actually is!) and to be creative, and I realized last night that they really have become those kind of people....but in a cool, socially normal kind of way.
Now a weird thing is happening to me - every time I walk past the garbage can outside, a little voice in my head says, "You are throwing away your kids' childhood!". I do not need that kind of guilt - or clutter, for that matter. I keep reminding myself that their childhood is still part of them, like a building block, and a foundation. And we will always have fantastic memories, great friends, a love of learning, a spinal column made out of wooden spools, and a variety of assorted items made out of Plastina modeling clay.

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