Arielle and her classmates are heading for kindergarten. But for now, they are participating in their pre-K graduation ceremony. Amid applause, they head toward their seats that face the audience of their biggest fans – their loved ones.
As I watch the ceremony, my eyes fill with sad-happy awe.
My eyes brim with sadness, as I know these very special children – whom Ari has known since they were all 15 months old – will all be going to different schools. Ari is good friends with a few of them, so they will get together regularly and hopefully remain friends. But the classmates’ camaraderie will be vanishing – one student at a time – as each child leaves to his or her kindergarten and a new path in life.
And my mind swirls with memory.
I think about how far she’s come – literally. I traveled halfway across the world to become a mother, and she traveled halfway across the world to become a member of a family who loves her very much. And to become an American.
I thought about how I felt when the plane’s wheels touched American soil. I cried when we landed – partly because I knew she’d have a better life in this country than she would in her native country. Yet, I also felt grief: I was taking her away from the country and culture she was born into – and farther from her biological mother who was out there somewhere.
The children are singing graduation songs they learned especially for this occasion. Ari’s face beams as she sings joyfully, and she holds herself with an air of confidence. She’s ready to move on.
I live in my memories.
I recall how a hungry, tired 13-month-old with a nametag was first put into my arms, and how she howled in fear. How her sobbing and grief in the hotel room unnerved me so much that I accidentally ripped her bag of dry formula, which spilled all over the bed. How the diapers I brought were too large for her. How she spent four days in dazed shock and grief.
How far she’s come.
The teacher calls each child up, one at a time, to hand him or her a diploma and pose for photos. Ari’s smile never leaves her face as she walks confidently to the teacher. She is ecstatic as she receives her diploma. She looks at me, smiling. She is so happy I’m there, but she’s also happy with the realization of a job well done: the job of being a successful student. She’s been talking so much about her upcoming graduation, that now that it is here, she revels in it.
As each student receives a diploma, his or her peers chant that graduate’s name. The youngest support group is cheering heartily, but so are all the children. Once again I’m reminded of how kind children can be.
My brain reverses to that first day at the preschool when she was 15 months old and couldn’t walk or even babble.
How I unknowingly brought her to school missing a shoe, which she had dislodged in the car. How her teacher reminded me that my toddler needs to come to class with both shoes firmly on her feet. How hard her first teacher worked to make sure Ari could gain her foothold.
And Ari has never stopped gaining that foothold. Ari learned to talk late, but she did learn to talk – with the collective efforts of her wonderful, patient teachers. And now, she doesn’t stop talking, and I am so happy to hear her prattle on and on.
The graduates are leaving the way they entered the area, two-by-two. Ari is beaming, gleefully waving to the crowd – especially to me. I’m so proud of my daughter. She’s been through so much in her young life, and so have I in my not-so-young life. I’ve waited miles of time to witness each milestone. And now that this milestone is here, I want to freeze time.
But time moves on. And that’s the way it should be.
Have you or a loved one achieved a milestone(s) you’d like to share?
Feel free to share any nostalgic moments.
Tags: adoption, China, graduation, kindergarten, motherhood, preschool