One of my rituals at the end of a school year is to re-read the children's favorite books...
some of which they have chosen for me to read,
but, several are ones that I choose...books that I simply must re-read to them. I know the children used to be attached to these, and when I read them aloud again,
I see the school year flash before all of our eyes.
I see how much the children have grown, and
I see the children's recognition that they have grown.
Let me share just two of these special books.
On the last day of school, I re-read
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.
Imagine, at the outset of a school year, how medicinal this book is for a preschooler,
offering a prescription for how to get through the day without Mommy,
holding on to her precious kiss in your hand,
Mommy is with me, Mommy is always with me...Mommy comes back, Mommy always comes back...
In September, I read this one book over and over to particular children,
for whom the process of letting go,
to Mommy, to Daddy, to Grammy, to whomever,
was so, so difficult.
Now, at the end of the year, how unnecessary this medicine! Look how big these preschoolers are! Ha! They don't cry when their family drops them off in the morning.
The Kissing Hand, so unnecessary now, yet, dear and familiar to these children.
They bask in its retelling, studying each page intently... their eyes saying, "I remember."
The children and I had a similar experience with my re-reading of
The Hello/Goodbye Window by Norton Juster (illustrated by Chris Raschka).
I have such a window in my classroom,
where the families can give one final wave or blow a kiss to their child at morning departure.
Every year, at some unscheduled point,
maybe late fall, perhaps mid-winter,
the ritual goes stale, unneeded, no longer relevant.
The once forlorn child now readily immerses herself in her friends and the morning activities, paying no mind to the window.
(It is a bittersweet moment for me when I see a Dad standing outside the window, mentally begging his child to look up, as if thinking - "Look, see, it's Daddy - one more wave, Daddy's leaving!" Ahhh, but she is playing happily in the room, her goodbye is done. Dad leaves without her noticing.)
This is the growth of a preschooler - not on a specific timeline, but absolute.