'Tis the season of alphas and omegas, beginnings and endings, and the mixed emotions that come with this transitional time of year. The mixed emotions are stronger for me this year than most, as all four of our children are in significant "alpha stages" of their life journey. Meagan will start college today, assuming she finds her classrooms on the CSU campus; Connor enters high school as a proud freshman and can start to carve out his own identity and develop new interests; and Blake commenced his kindergarten year at Leroy Drive, the same school I was blessed to attend years ago, as he walked into Ms. Williams' classroom at 7:35 this morning. Makayla transitioned to full time preschool last Monday, so life in our home -- like many of the homes throughout our District -- has changed dramatically over the last week.
Like many parents in our system, I struggle to find the "just right" balance in encouraging our children to take on this new life chapter with enthusiasm and confidence while keeping my own emotions in check. I handled it all pretty well for most of the day last Thursday as we moved Meagan into her dormitory at CSU. I busied myself with hauling boxes -- endless numbers of boxes -- up the stairs to her room; greeted and interrogated many of the students on her floor that she'll live with this next year; registered her bike with the campus police; and picked up her books at the bookstore. (Meagan shares last names with one of the captains of the CSU football team -- we're not related, at least that we know -- and so I had fantasized, notwithstanding my build of wanna-be distance runner, that the bookstore clerk would ask if I was related to Number 58. Didn't happen . . . . )
And then it quickly became time to get out of Meagan's way, let her begin to build bonds with her roommates and floormates, and say our goodbyes. I was the first in the sendoff line in her dorm room, and it was somewhere between "I'm proud of you" and "Make good choices" that the tears started streaming down my face. They continued during the walk to our car and and as we crept through traffic with the other moms and dads departing Fort Collins. I probably would have stayed in my pity party all the way to our house if it weren't for a song from my youth that came on the CD player in our car.
Connor had burned the CD for me the week prior, and it includes many of the songs that we love to blast out together as we're heading to the mountains. Almost all of them are from the 80s . . . . and so it was fitting that an REO Speedwagon song -- "Time for Me to Fly" -- took its turn on the CD player on our trip from CSU. There were a few occasions in my lifetime that I embraced those lyrics as I was breaking up with/getting dumped by a girl, but they took on a new meaning on Thursday -- especially the lines that say that "I know that it hurts to say goodbye, but it's time for me to fly."
There are many difficult goodbyes this time of year; I witnessed several of them this morning at Leroy and the Studio school as kindergartners wrapped their arms and legs around their parents and hoped that everyone would give up and let them stay home one more day. And I've realized this year, more than any year prior, how difficult those goodbyes can be for parents as well. It's helped me process through these difficult transitions, though, to realize that they are a necessary part of building the independence, confidence, skills and traits essential for our students to fly high and make their dreams come true.
And so I'll conclude with a wish for Meagan, Connor, Blake, Makayla, and the 42,000+ students that we serve here in Adams 12: Make the most of every day; challenge yourself; believe in yourself; and take the forward leap necessary to get off the ground and fly high.