Every time, at this time of year, my kids take on the characteristics of students in one grade higher. It’s as if they’re shedding the skin of their current grade, and growing a newer, larger, skin of what they will become by mid-August, when the transformation is complete and they head back to school.
My 3rd grader now looks like a 4th grader. She recently began parting her hair to the side instead of the middle. Her swagger is more mature– she walks to school with her hands in her pockets, her messenger bag dangling off to the side. My 1st grader resembles a 2nd grader. She no longer complains about the heft of her backpack. She no longer needs to be reminded on the days she stays late for art class– she remembers this all on her own. I don’t have to wipe her mouth after she finishes her pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast– she gets up, puts her plate in the sink, and leans over to clean off her own mouth.
It’s funny, because I’m with the kids every single day, and I don’t often notice such big changes unless I step back. Kind of like looking at a painting at an art gallery. If you stand close, you see all the details– the artist’s brush strokes, the mixing of the colors, even the pencil marks underneath where the images were first sketched. But if you stand back, you discover the big picture, the final result.
I watch the kids from the front porch walk to school. My eyes follow them to the front of the subdivision, where they then turn the corner out of my view. It’s when I see them walk away from me, when I notice that the tiny mounds I follow with my eyes look bigger. As if during that path to school, in the landscape of our neighborhood, they grow up right before me.