School started this week, and all week long I’ve been thinking a lot about change. Last Friday was graduation at his school. I know that many people laugh at the concept of a preschool graduation, that we congratulate our children for insignificant “achievements” but this was not like a cap and gown ceremony at all. Since Otis’s school is a mixed age preschool, it’s a really significant rite of passage. At the same time that the graduates are saying goodbye to this place that they’ve ruled for the past year, the next oldest group of kids glimpse what’s to come in the upcoming year, with a new role in the school and the accompanying responsibilities. Two years ago, there were only two graduates that I only knew vaguely, and it mostly special because of the party afterwards. But this year, I knew these kids. I’ve spent a lot of time with them, and I felt a real sense of loss. It also made me think about this community that we’ve built at this school: not only do I know the kids intimately, but we also know the parents and the teachers, and I could call them all my friends. I hang out at the school, and I’m a part of school life. It feels like all of that will change in kindergarten. Things will happen at school that I might not hear about from the other kids or the teachers. I won’t be able to dawdle and spy. I won’t know all his classmates anymore, unless they are playmates. He will be growing up. I cried from the moment we got to school.
I’ve already noticed changes at school. The school is quieter, and the play has changed. Even his identity has changed: the other Otis graduated, so we are slowly getting used to being just “Otis” and not “Otis T,” as he has been known for the past two years. Otis, however, is excited as can be. He’s looking forward to his role as one of the big kids. With little competition, he is the first one at the swing every day. And he is taking his role as mentor and teacher very seriously, as he leads the new students around and shows them the ropes. There is much talk about “sponsibilities” very day. And he can’t wait until graduation.