My daughter’s end of kindergarten celebration was this morning. I knew it was going to be rough, emotionally speaking, because my my son’s pre-K graduation, several years ago, was heavy on the theatrics, like a funeral for royalty or a world renowned pop star.
It was designed to show just how much the kids had grown in that one year and it was designed to milk tears out of the parents and teachers. It succeeded. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
The kindergarten celebration wasn’t nearly as maudlin or emotionally manipulative, but nobody was going to escape unscathed.
It would have been impossible not to be touched by the growth of the students and the investment and efforts of the teachers and parents who volunteered.
The crowd made it through the opening numbers just fine. The kids sang songs that showed what they learned about the alphabet and subtraction this year and there was even a cute song about the people in the community.
If that was the extent of the program, we all would have made it out of the classroom without crying — but then came the photo slideshow.
Kids grow up. I get it. Every year, they get bigger and more mature. However, there is such a pronounced change from the beginning of kindergarten to the end of the school year that it just floors you.
During kindergarten these children lose those last remnants of toddlerhood and blossom into something new. Seeing this evolution pass before your eyes in a matter of minutes, all set to Katy Perry’s “Roar,” the unofficial anthem of Fayetteville Elementary School, got me right to the verge of tears. I could feel the hitch in my breath at several points but I was trapped in one of those tiny chairs.
The video ended and I had made it through, ready to be dismissed to the coffee and donuts portion of the program, but then the teacher talked about what a fabulous year she had with the students.
After a long career teaching other grades, this was her first year of teaching kindergarten and the kids just blew her away with their sweetness and their thirst for learning. When her voice began to buckle, I lost it.
It truly was a tremendous year and my daughter made strides that I did not know she was even capable of. This was the year it became clear what type of student and person she is going to be.
I am so grateful for the care and guidance of everyone who encountered her in the classroom this year.
I am so proud of all that she has accomplished. I was filled with the emotion I now call happysad.
I am happy that my daughter had such an excellent year with an incredible group of friends and teachers. I am sad that it is over.
I am happy I was able to attend some of her special programs this year.
We built gingerbread houses, went on an Easter egg hunt and spent field day together. I am sad that I wasn’t there to see more of it.
I am happy that my daughter is growing up and is so smart and more independent by the day.
I am sad because there will come a day I can’t pick her up and fold her in my arms. I am happy that day has yet to arrive.
The kids in the kindergarten class did not feel happysad today. I don’t think kids typically get that way in school.
I know I felt something similar on the last day of camp every summer and I know I felt it when I graduated from high school.
Happysad tends to mark the end of an era. I won’t feel that way when my daughter goes from first grade to second grade.
The main feeling I am having as my son goes from third grade to fourth grade is relief.
I’m sure happysad will hit me again though at some other point in my life, before high school graduations come into the mix.
I hope that I can just give myself over to it.
I tried so hard to maintain today, but I shouldn’t feel like I have to.
It’s OK to be happysad. It just means that you are truly experiencing life. If you feel it, it isn’t simply passing you by.
[Michael Boylan of Fayetteville is the former sports editor of The CItizen.]