When my two oldest grandchildren, Chris and Shai, completed their last day of high school, they both stopped by my office to share their thoughts with me. Chris has his next three years of college all planned out, while Shai isn’t sure of what she wants to do concerning college, but that didn’t matter, because their feelings were essentially the same. Both were a little bit in shock. How could all those school years have somehow flown by so quickly? Suddenly it seemed like just yesterday that they were starting Kindergarten, middle school, and high school…so how could it possibly be over. It felt so final.
Looking back, I remember my own final day of high school, and I still remember exactly how I felt. It was a mixture of shock and sadness. It wasn’t that I wasn’t ready to move on to the new chapters of my life and all the great things my life would hold, but there was just a little sadness that my formal childhood education, and therefore my childhood were now over. Being an adult is such a change from the teenage years. You don’t have to answer to your parents, or even live under their roof, but that means that you are now responsible for your own bills, your own job, your own decisions, and your own mistakes. It is a big step, but that isn’t what is causing the feeling of, something is…not quite right here…when did I suddenly slip through this passage of time, and how could I have not noticed that it was going by.
To a kid, the school years seem like they will go on forever, and by about first grade they figure out that they have a total of thirteen years of school to go through, and that feels like a huge amount of years of school. It seems never ending. Then in the blink of an eye, they find themselves standing on the threshold of graduation, and they look back and wonder where all the years went. There is simply no way to reach this point without suddenly thinking “Whoa…wait!! I’m not sure I’m ready for this!!” Nevertheless, ready or not, here it is. You don’t have the option to go back, slow down, or stop and do things over. You are graduating, and your years of childhood education, and childhood in general are over. It is a sobering discovery, and therefore it takes a bit of getting used to, combined with that hint of sadness. I could totally relate to how Chris and Shai were feeling.
Whether a student likes school, or can’t wait until it is over, I think the reaction to that final day is the same…even if they plan to go to college. College is not the same as high school, so the feel of that is very different than anything they are used to. Their education is their own responsibility…they can do what they need to do, or they can bomb out. Of course, bombing out does mean that they have some explaining to do to their parents, but it is still up to them really. They are adults now, and their choices are their own…as are their mistakes. I know that both my grandchildren will be great!!
There are few things that spell summer better for little kids than water…whether it is a wading pool, the local swimming pool, the lake, water pistols, or running through the sprinkler. Kids just love the hot days, so they can get wet to cool off. Lots of adults feel the same way too, as a matter of fact. It’s just what summer is all about.
While watching some old home movies the other night, I saw Bob and his sisters Debbie, and Jennifer running through the sprinkler. Jennifer was just a little girl of about 3 years, and I’m pretty sure it was her first experience at running through the sprinkler. She was obviously enjoying herself, but that doesn’t mean the water felt like what she expected either. As she started into the water, she skirted the edges of it at first, almost as if trying not to get wet. I know that feeling. It happens when you get caught in a rain shower. Even though it is hot outside, and the rain has a cooling effect, it still has the ability to almost feel like needles hitting your skin…ok, dull needles that don’t hurt, but still each one creates a little shock. That is how Jennifer seemed to be feeling.
That first time feeling of running through the sprinkler is a one time event. Once you know what to expect, you never get to feel that way again. That doesn’t make running through the sprinkler any less fun, just not so surprisingly shocking ever again. Knowledge comes with experience, and once we know something, we know it forever. There is no way to go back to that innocense and be surprised by it again. I’m sure that the next time the kids ran through the sprinkler, Jennifer didn’t skirt the edge like she did before.
I am reminded of a picture I have of my oldest grandson running through the sprinkler, and I’m thinking how cute he looked. Christopher was clearly ducking his head to the side to avoid the water that was hitting him…and yet he liked the whole feeling, of coolness on a hot day. Even with the wading pool and other backyard pools that are available, kids have loved to run throught the sprinkler since they were invented. And, I can relate to that. Once you have tried it, you will like it. Even as an adult, it isn’t the end of the world to have to run through the sprinkler to get into the house. I mean, after all, clothes dry, but the fun of running through the sprinkler will stick with you for a long time.
When I was a kid, we always enjoyed having my cousin, Denny and his wife, Sandy come over for visits. They were just fun people to be around, and while they were older than we were, they didn’t act as if my sisters and I were bothersome little kids who should just go play and leave the adults alone. That was something I always appreciated, and it made for a good relationship with them. As the years have gone by, and they moved to Oregon, we haven’t been in touch as much as as we used to be, but once again, Facebook has come to the rescue, and we are back in touch again. Being back in touch, has also brought back some memories for me, and I think my readers will find this one interesting. I wrote yesterday about the flinching game, so today, I will tell you about the hand slapping game.
One day, Denny and Sandy were at our house visiting, and Denny and I were playing the hand slapping game. You know the one, I held my hand over his hand, and he tried to quickly come over the top of my hand and slap it before I could move it out of the way. Needless to say, Denny was much better at that game than I was at that age, and my hands were often the ones slapped. It was all done in good clean fun, and never intended to hurt anyone, but sometimes things can happen, as we all know.
On this particular occasion, we were sitting there playing the game, and as usual, Denny was winning. It was his turn to try to slap my hands, and he was doing a real good job of it. I think he must have decided to try to give me a break, because when he swung his hand over to slap the top of mine, he lifted his hand really high so I would have a fighting chance. He knew that I would move my hand, so he started coming down really fast, and when I moved my hand, he couldn’t get his hand stopped in time. The problem was that my hand had been over his leg, and when he couldn’t stop in time, he slapped his own leg. He let out a little bit of a yelp, because I’m sure it hurt, but I really think it was more an expression of shock. While he knew I would move my hand, he just didn’t think of where his hand was going to land. In the end, we both laughed about it, because you have to admit, it was pretty funny.
Sooner or later, everyone has a moment that can only be classified as…well, shock!! Being mildly surprised…which tends to be the new picture to take and post on Facebook just doesn’t describe it. No, I’m talking about that moment when someone jumps out at you in a hallway and your eyes get as big a silver dollars. And nobody does shock quite like a baby. They just can’t seem to get their mind wrapped around things like loud noises, and the resulting look on their face is simply classic!!
My granddaughter, Shai was one of those babies who was startled by just about anything. Maybe she was a concentrator like her grandma, or maybe she just had great hearing. I don’t know. I just know that noises or an unexpected touch could cause her eyes to get huge, and even make her cry sometimes. She was simply so jumpy. Of course, we didn’t try to make her cry but, those big eyes were something to see.
I wish I could have been around for some of the shocked looks I have seen in the pictures of Bob, because I have never seen eyes so big…in anyone, baby or adult. I don’t know what shocked Bob, but I’m surprised he didn’t jump right out of his mom’s arms in this picture. His was the greatest face of shock picture I have ever seen. I would love to have seen what happened to shock Bob, because I have never seen eyes so big, in baby or adult. They looked like they were going to pop right out of his head!! Every time I see that picture I have to laugh, because Bob’s shock was so apparent. If it wasn’t mean, you would do the same things over and over just to see those wide eyed shocked looks on the baby’s face.
Some of the best shocked baby moments come when you are taking a picture and the flash goes off. As adults, we know to be prepared for that flash, but there is no way to warn a baby about that impending flash, and no matter how many times you take their picture, the result is the same…at least until they are a little older. You might catch that smiling face, or you just might end up with the face of shock!