Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflecting on hugs, green beans & the future on the final day of high school June 1, 2012

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My son graduates from kindergarten at Faribault Lutheran School in May 2000.

I DID NOT EXPECT melancholy to wash over me Thursday morning as I hugged my 18-year-old goodbye on his final day of high school.

But I suppose, now that I think about it, why wouldn’t I feel somewhat sad after 21 years of sending off-spring off to school.

I made it a point, with all three of my children, to send them out the door with a hug and a kiss and a “Have a good day at school.” Well, at least that was my intention. As the grade-schoolers became pre-teens and then teens, the kisses were often skipped. But not the hugs. No, not the hugs.

Thursday morning, on my son’s final day of classes, I embraced him in a lingering, vise grip hold. I expected him to resist such an emotional display of affection and pull away. But he didn’t. Instead, his lanky arms gripped tighter around me, both of us understanding this to be a bittersweet moment we wanted to remember, or at least that I wanted to remember.

Just the evening before, my son asked if I remembered his first day of kindergarten. I paused and then realized that, no, I did not recall that first day of sending him off to school.

But I did remember the day he got in trouble from his kindergarten teacher for stuffing green beans into his milk carton at lunch time. And I do recall the day he came home proclaiming he loved Mrs. K more than me. I’m pretty certain that was prior to the disappearing green beans trick.

Turns out he truly didn’t love Mrs. K more than me and he still doesn’t like green beans.

The disappearing part, though…how did the years between my son’s birth and age 18 disappear so quickly? Poof. Just like that he’s all grown up and ready to venture into the world without those morning hugs.

When my 18-year-old arrived home from his final day of classes Thursday afternoon, I welcomed him with a hug.

“That’s it,” he said.

He has no idea. It’s only the beginning.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling