Next Stop, Morning Town

I think we all know that I am not one of those Weepy Mommies. Not like a friend of mine who recently confessed that her son started crying about Kindergarten coming to an end, and she began crying too, and they lay on the bed in each others’ arms weeping because he is moving to Grade One in the fall. No, if you ask me how I feel about my baby being promoted out of Kindergarten, you’re more likely to get an answer along the lines of “Thank heavens! Finally we’ll be free of that insane Kindergarten schedule! No more mid-day pickups! No more trying to remember whether she’s in mornings or afternoons this week! Praise the Lord!”

The fact is, I actually love seeing my children grow up. I’ve loved every stage they’ve been through so far, but they just seem to keep getting better and more interesting, and I haven’t experienced any broody longings for the baby days. I enjoy watching their growing independence — after all, isn’t the process of good parenting simply working yourself out of a job? I have no hankering to return to the days of toting two toddlers through the supermarket, thank you very much.

So, having enjoyed Christopher’s Grade Two concert a few nights ago, I went to watch Emma’s Kindergarten Farewell evening with a happy and proud smile on my face. Emma, of course, did a wonderful job of saying her piece and singing her songs, even though she was obviously nervous and concerned about getting it right. All went smoothly until the very end, and I place the blame entirely on the principal.

The principal of my children’s school (the smiley man pictured above handing Emma her Kindergarten diploma) is a different type of principal from the ones I knew back in the day. (Back in the day of: “There’ s nothing wrong with this school; it’s just the prinicipal of the thing!”) Rather than striding the halls, ruler in hand, instilling terror in the hearts of students, he walks the halls smiling, and little children run to him and voluntarily tell him how their day has been and what they’re doing that’s fun. He is approachable to a degree I had never imagined a principal could be. He also likes to end some of the school concerts by picking up his guitar and singing a little ditty for the kids, sometimes one he’s composed himself.

So when he sat down to sing at the end of Emma’s concert, I was prepared for a nice heartwarming principal-composed tune that would wrap up the evening nicely. I was completely unprepared for him to start singing “Morningtown Ride” and have all the children join him on the chorus.

“Morningtown Ride” is very emotionally loaded for me. It’s the song I remember my parents singing to me when I was a baby, and Jason and I in turn sang it to Christopher and Emma when they were babies. Something about the line: “All the little travellers are snug and warm inside” always makes me well up with tears. So when I saw my baby — my baby — sitting up on stage with all the other Great Big Kindergarteners, singing backup for that very song — well, suddenly it hit me that an era in our lives was over. And I began to cry. Openly. Copiously.

It didn’t help that he followed it up with “Turn Around,” another multigenerational lullaby from my family which was also sung by my dad at our wedding. What, does the principal have some kind of secret inside track on what opens my emotional floodgates??

But you know, it felt OK to cry at that moment. There are times when a good cry is exactly what you want.

Congratulations Emma, my Kindergarten graduate. Turn around, and you’re a young girl, going out of the door.

Not quite yet, please.

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