There is something about teaching at a K-12 school that makes one very aware of the passage of time. Years pass in rhythm. The first few days of school, the annual field trips, programs, parent conferences, breaks, plays, concerts, ceremonies, and lessons…all of them mark the passage of time, all of them are potential pages in the yearbook. Eventually, the yearbooks take up a shelf–our collective lives bound together and put aside for remembrance. Pull one down and find the current senior class as first graders, huge hair bows and grins with missing teeth. It is both a blessing and a reminder–time passes, cherish today.
Last night I went to the Dialectic (Junior High) Play: The Wizard of Oz. It was excellent. This event is held yearly in the lunchroom. As my grandson pointed out as we were walking in, you would never guess to look at it during the play that lunch consumption is the room’s usual function. The plain and rather ugly room is transformed–into Oz, or Narnia…or Hannibal, Missouri. As I watched the people crowd into our little make-shift theater and the children line the floor in front of the stage, I couldn’t help but remember other years, other excited children jostling for a seat, other actors nervous back stage. The first Dialectic play I remember, and the first one I can find in any of my yearbooks, was Tom Sawyer.
I had a front-row seat on opening night because my baby-boy was playing Tom. Some of the second graders who pushed and jostled for position in front of me, crowding the place where I would put my feet that night, are currently in tenth grade–they push and jostle now in my hallway. Two years ago, I sat and watched some of them perform. Last year, they were my freshmen and I love them like my own. Time moves them forward, and in the yearbook their pictures move toward the back–toward the senior section and graduation.
As I sat there last night, the memories of other performances, other actors, other scenery and other audiences filled my mind and heart. I sighed aloud at one point and my daughter gave me a glance of concern. “Are you okay?” she whispered. I was okay. I am okay. I am also growing old. My grandson, now a Caldwell kindergartener, jostled for position on the floor in front of the stage. My other grandson, a current fifth grader, munched on Skittles down the row. He will be old enough to try out for the play next year. “Tom Sawyer” is in South Carolina; his buddy “Huck” is in Chicago; they are moving toward the work-a-day adult world, full of hopes and dreams. Life goes on, the shelf of yearbooks grows, the play of life continues scene on scene and act on act. This is the way of things; today is ours to enjoy.