Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Finish lines

Last week was, in a word, tempestuous. And I don't just mean the tornado that bisected our town, either. That tornado, though, cancelled the last full day of school. That tornado and I are not on speaking terms.

Many children were probably excited about the last week of school but a certain first grade girl I know pretty well was devastated and was also simultaneously terrified about how Life After first grade would look. First grade, you understand, was wonderful. First grade was the best thing ever. First grade teachers are the best teachers in the solar system. First grade had not been granted permission to end, let alone be truncated.

Transitions are not an anxious girl's friend.

The thing about anxiety is that it's an unpredictable beast. Oh, I anticipated its arrival, of course, but I can never anticipate its episodic intensity. Last week a certain first grader I love struggled harder than she has in at least year, and as such, I struggled, too. When I can't fix the problems she feels inside and all I can do is be her biggest cheerleader, my sense of inadequacy climbs in direct relation to her struggle's intensity. We were spiking new records last week. Oh, that girl. Love aches sometimes.

Sometimes life's calendar has a ridiculous way of throwing overstated metaphors in one's face. Like it or not, first grade did indeed end on Friday, and I was scheduled to run that 5k race I'd been training for on Sunday. Anyway, as it turns out, crossing the finish line is a lot easier than thinking about crossing the finish line. It's taken a few days, but now that we can all accept conclusively that first grade has come to an end, it's not the worst thing that's ever happened. (Let's not yet talk about beginning a new camp next week or a new grade next school year.)

And the 5k? This might be hard to understand. It was almost a disappointment. When I set that goal, it seemed just short of impossible to me. By the time I ran the race, it wasn't even that hard. (I ran it in 36:12. That will never be mistaken for speedy but I never walked and I could have kept going.)

So now that we've all de- and recompensated, guess what? Life goes on. But whew, what a week.

(There are 68 days before facing a transition into second grade. And I think I might train for a 10k distance. Life is all about finding the next starting line after the last finishing one, right?)

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