School is out! The school itself is not; the boys' classmates will still attend a few more weeks. Since we thought we'd be packed already, we gave the school notice. Friday was the day.
Goodbyes were said, or not said. The language of goodbye is never easy. Or maybe the language is so simple, it belies the depth of emotion a goodbye is supposed to somehow neatly contain.
Probably I should have perfected my goodbyes by now. In addition to several decades of school farewells and job departures, we've moved four times in the last six years. One of those was merely around the block but the other three crossed state lines.
I come from Minnesota, where saying goodbye is an elevated art form. The Minnesota Goodbye takes a good hour at the door, only to be followed by an hour-long promenade to the car. Even when the car pulls away, both parties are often still yammering their farewells, perhaps a little less so in sub zero temperatures. Still you'd be surprised by the all-weather tenacity of the typical Minnesotan sendoff. Both of my grandmothers were highly skilled in this craft and my dad can rock a pretty impressive farewell. But I could never do it, the painfully extended goodbye. Just rip that bandaid off already! Instead, for many years, I tended toward the the stealth goodbye in social settings. If I hugged you an hour before I left, I would count that as good and slip out the door without another. You may not even have know I was saying goodbye while I said it.
I do everything I can do encourage my boys to express their feelings. But they are still young and invincible. They haven't yet learned to dread goodbyes. I imagine it only gets harder for kids to say goodbye to their friends. At this point they have no idea that the characters of this particular chapter of their story may not ever reappear in the tome of their lifetime.
Dylan has plenty of words at his disposal, but he is an even better reader of faces. He read our faces as his teacher and I encouraged him to give a hug and say goodbye, love. He instead planted himself on the ground and threw a fit about wanting a random carton of milk. Because of course he did. He saw our big moon eyes and knew enough to know this goodbye stuff was serious business. No thanks, I'd just like some milk. He did finally give a hug, so I called it good and we made our way to Jack's classroom.
Jack clearly thought it was weird that his teacher was being so emotive out in the hallway that day. No, I don't want to say goodbye to my class. Okay, fine, I'll say goodbye to my best friend. When his best friend stepped into the hallway he did exactly that. From ten feet away he waved, said Bye, turned on his heel and walked away. That was that. Minutes later in the car, however, he told me he wanted to show her his latest lego creation when he saw her on Monday and my heart sank to the floor.
We just said goodbye and he didn't know it.
Back home Jack delighted in showing his little brother every little pencil, eraser and marker remaining in his supply box. We decided to break out the paints. Painting on paper quickly turned to something entirely else. I fully admit, after seeing Cherish's recent painting-outside-the-box post I'd recently encouraged our own body paint party but I never did capture any photo evidence that day. This time, they were still painting on paper when I went inside to get my camera. When I'd returned, they'd switched canvases all on their own.
Jack likes to follow rules. In his heart of hearts he knew I'd encourage such folly, but there was still that brief deer-caught-in-headlights moment when I stepped back outside.
But he got over it quickly and embraced his wild side.
So we painted, hooted and hollered, wrestled and hugged it out. Perhaps we found a messier way to express some of those not-so-neatly contained emotions that the boys don't yet have context or language for ... and maybe I still don't either.