Today was the day when grown adults reach discreetly into their pockets in search of handkerchiefs and tissues to wipe away a slowly forming tear from the corner of one’s eyes in the hope that no notices. It's that joyous, yet sobering occasion which mixes smiles and sadness in equal measure whilst watching a selection of photos past and present played to music to remind you that nothing stays the same. Yes, you've guessed it today was Leaver's assembly for our wonderful son, Noah. His seven years at Middleton Primary have come to an end.
When he first entered the school (not a foregone conclusion at the time, and it took a well fought battle with Jo at the helm to secure his place) in reception the thought of him leaving for Secondary felt like a lifetime away. Seven Christmas times would need to pass. Seven summer breaks would need to come and go. Seven Easters. Seven Sports days (save for those ruined by Covid) - it all felt like a long time away. But now it’s here. They have passed. Those years have gone. And I feel upset; and happy; and sad; and proud. I feel like I want to press pause - but life, as we know does not come with a pause - only a process, only the opportunity to be present in each moment.
I might have thought that a man of my age and experience that these 'rites of passage' moments would become easier - but they don't. Or at least in my experience they don't. Perhaps it’s my melancholic tendencies; my pensive mood to think too much and at times, too deeply. Whatever. One thing is for sure - for Noah Primary is over - and the adventure of Secondary awaits. But for today we must hold the moment. Tomorrow's adventure will come soon enough. For now, I should treasure the memories and remind myself that each day is precious, every experience is valued: that each of us are made by the days we live and the way we live them.
It's not easy being a parent. The emotional roller coaster of highs and lows is part of the deal as you measure off your failures against your successes in the hope that the latter outweighs the former. But the years never return. There is no reverse, no pause - just today. The moment we are given to love and linger and that's what Leaver's Assemblies do - they create that moment to linger. A time to ask how are we doing? Where can we do better? What have we done well?
I know I'm not alone in thinking this way - and probably not alone in shedding a private tear. The question is what should we do with those tears? Let them be a reminder of what really matters - that's a good place to start. Allow them to tweak those areas of change that make us better parents - those small incremental adjustments that over the years make us wiser and braver in our watching over those entrusted to us. Allow us to mark off the years knowing we have sought to live in the present rather than pine after the past or look too impatiently for the future.
As parents we all love our children deeply and passionately. That today causes us to pause, reflect and remember is not a bad thing. Noah has an amazing mum, wonderful siblings and a great family. Today was the closing of a chapter for all year six kids – a day for parents to shed a tear as we see the years pass by.
Tomorrow is the start of a new day. The mood today? Pensive, yes, and grateful – for sure.