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It’s the end of the school year, which means awards assemblies. Our oldest child was not much into overachieving, so these weren’t part of our parenting experience the first time around. This has been a bumper year for our next two oldest children, however.

Our oldest daughter was amazing at her sport. In fact, she had high hopes of being chosen captain for next year’s team. Last night the phone call came, complete with sobs and tears, to tell her dad that she was not chosen. I could hear her heartbreak from a pillow away. He said all the right things and I was glad she had called him, for several reasons. Unlike her older brother, she has found a way to talk to her dad and to know that his pushing her to reach her potential does not mean he thinks she’s a loser when she falls short. I was also glad she called him because I knew her heartbreak and would have focused more on empathy than on adjusting her focus.

And today was the award’s assembly for our youngest son, who is finishing his last year of elementary school. I see a lot of my own personality in this son, including the way he is very hard on himself. I took him to breakfast this morning to celebrate it being the last day of school and, when I brought up the awards assembly, he commented that he was only receiving one award and it was the national physical fitness award, not the presidential. He said it as if I might cuff him up side the head for such a mean achievement. “That’s awesome, honey,” I said, but he didn’t look convinced. I knew, though he did not, that he was also receiving the presidential silver award for academics. When he went up for his award, he looked pleased, but I could almost hear him thinking, “the silver, not the gold.”

So we console one and congratulate the other all in a twelve hour period.

At the end of the assembly, as they played a DVD of pictures of the students about to move on to middle school, I teared up and it hit me, again, how fast our children are growing up. It wasn’t that long ago that I spent lazy afternoons reading and rubbing my pregnant belly, dreaming of who this child would be and now here he is, looking for facial hair on his chin, talking about when he’s going to get a phone so he can text his friends, and making plans for what he’ll be involved in next year at his new school. Our daughter, who was three when we married, begins her last year in high school next fall.

The gray in my hair and the stray whiskers on my chin (shhh) have been telling me I’m aging, but nothing shows the passing of time like children who are leaving behind their childhood. Click, click–just keep taking those mental pictures of those remaining childhood milestones. And hang on for the ride.

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