Rites of Passage

Yesterday was a bittersweet day for it marked the last day of school for my son Max and the onset of summer. The week leading up to yesterday was an emotional roller coaster for the kids and the parents as well. There were so many events all jammed into that last week that I could hardly keep track. Picnics, puppet shows, poetry readings, track and field days, and the list goes on. All in all, it was very overwhelming and I can only imagine how the kids must have felt with so much going on. I became awash in crazy forgetfulness and bouts of insomnia, which often happens when I don’t get much down time.

Finally, yesterday we said goodbye to yet another wonderful milestone. The end of first grade and on to the next. Where the time goes by, so quickly and so silently, I do not know. Yet I am thankful to have this time at home with my children because I know it is special time I won’t get back. Moreover, before I know it, I’ll be rubbing away tears and scratching my head in awe, wonder, amazement and bittersweet pride as my children walk down the aisle to receive their diploma and move on to yet another rite of passage: College.

My son Max wrote this during his first week of school. I felt so proud of him! He fulfilled his dreams and surpassed his expectations of first grade, learning more than he ever imagined possible. What a special year it was! 

For some reason, this year was indeed very special.  I was fortunate to be able to volunteer frequently in my son’s class thus I got to know the wonderful group of 25 first-graders as well as his fabulous teacher, Ms. May. There is something about first grade that is truly magical. The children are still so innocent and sweet and their imagination, creativity and excitement to learn is contagious.

At the beginning of the year, the majority of the class could read only short books and some could hardly write much at all. As the year went on, I witnessed my son Max’s reading ability burst, something that was utterly amazing to see. He is now easily reading Harry Potter and other children’s chapter books all in a short nine months. It is truly unbelievable what little sponges children’s minds are! And it also reminds me of all the people around the world who are illiterate and never had the opportunity to go to school. I feel utterly blessed that we have these opportunities here for our children. Something I think many people take for granted.

I pulled together a collection of photos from the last day of school that marked the rite of passage.  It will be fun to go back and look at this in ten years time when my son is nearly finished with school. Ah, the memories! They are the most sacred treasures we as parents can have….

Yesterday morning Max colored a card for his teacher to give her as a gift along with a bouquet of flowers.  I love that he thanked her for “teaching him!”. I feel honored that we have instilled a love of learning in him at such a young age. 

My smiling boy. (He loves to smile). 

Whatever Max does, his little sister Sophia has to do too.  Here she is making her card for Max’s teacher as well. I can’t believe she will be starting Kindergarten this fall. 

It was a gorgeous morning and felt so summery. Me and my dad walked Max to school for his last day. My parents are in town visiting us for the week and Max wanted to show his papa his school and introduce him to his teacher.

Papa and Max on the way to school walking along my favorite creek. 

We arrived in school and excitement was in the air. Our music teacher plays music in the atrium of the school every single morning. It is something I truly enjoy and look forward to. Usually he plays either the accordion or acoustic guitar but on the last day of school, he goes electric! The energy was intense and there was a festive vibe in the air.

I took down our family photos from the inside of Max’s school locker.  I will sure miss walking him up to his class everyday and seeing all my little friends in his class and in particular, my friend Ms. May.

Max and his wonderful teacher Ms. May, who I adore. 

I was handed some of Max’s last drawings to bring home….

This is a photo of Max’s team for the puppet show.  Each kid was a different animal. The puppets were handmade in class with parents volunteers’ help, some taking up to 45 minutes to make!  But they were so incredibly cute!

I also enjoyed looking at some of Max’s last colorful drawings of the year. I have kept every single picture he made in a large box for him to have someday and enjoy.  The creativity and imagination makes my heart smile.  Above is a picture of a hardcover book that contains a piece of each child’s art. 

My parents and I spent the morning walking around the lakes.  We first hit Lake Harriet and in the afternoon walked around Lake Calhoun where we witnessed another rite of passage: The last day of high school. Packs of bikini-clad teenagers were swarming the beaches and acting silly. I realized it won’t be long and this will be Max.

City skyline from Lake Calhoun. 

High school kids playing hooky and hanging out at the beach on the last day of school. 

Pick up time was crazy. There were hugs and lots of goodbyes to friends, kids, and teachers. I knew that Max was going to be sad. He is a sensitive little guy. I could tell he was going to cry and he did, the moment he hugged his teacher and said goodbye. It was hard for me to not cry as well. Over the last nine months, I’d become very attached to his class, his teacher and the school. It is such a wonderful sense of community and I know I’ll miss a lot of those friendly, welcoming faces each day over the summer. But before I know it, we’ll be back and on to another chapter in our lives.

There was no way I wasn’t going to end the day without a glass a my beloved wine. I sat outside sipping red wine with my mom, sharing memories of her childhood and dreams of the future. 


  1. Congrats to Max on passing this milestone. You must be proud, Nicole. And Sophia is so darling with her little drawing! Hope you have a wonderful visit with your parents.

  2. Beautiful post – thanks for sharing! Loving the the skyline pic and use to live blocks from Calhoun; spent some time there. Have a Great Day – Here’s to a Wonderful Summer too:)

  3. Beautiful post Nicole! Can imagine how proud you must be 🙂 And how can a rite of passage be marked without wine?

    • Thanks Madhu! I am sure becoming emotional with these kids. Time is flying and they are growing up so fast. I want to hold them tight before they are too big and won’t let me. Yes I am proud but still many more years of work to do! Raising kids is the toughest job you’ll ever love, right?!

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