Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Beginnings and Endings, Firsts and Lasts

First Day of Kindergarten - Last Day of High School

I remember a few years back when my youngest was really still a baby, I got to thinking about beginnings and endings and firsts and lasts.

You always know the first time you do something - climb a tree, get a job, kiss a boy, get your driver's license. It is often something you will never forget, an historic moment indelibly etched in your memory. However, you hardly ever know when you will be doing something for the last time - see a loved one, go on a trip, visit your favorite place. This thought popped into my head when I realized, many years ago, that my younger son had stopped drinking from a baby bottle. It was not something we did consciously. We started giving him sippy cups with meals. Then, one night, he went to bed without a bottle. We just forgot. He did not complain. A few days passed before I realized that I had not washed a bottle in a few days.  We had reached that milestone - no more bottles. It was an event to celebrate with the disposal of all those plastic monstrosities, things I would never need to use again. Of course, other lasts followed, but there were so many more memorable firsts - first steps, first day of pre-school, first day of kindergarten, first summer camp, first airplane ride, first trip to Disney World, first Broadway Show, first cruise (Alaska - highly recommended), first college visit, first girlfriend. . . .

That little boy is not-so-little anymore at almost 18, a high school senior, but a string of lasts loom before us - his last prom, his last exams, his last day of school, his last summer as a kid. I have probably already driven him to school for the last time. He even drove himself on this morning after a large, but messy snowfall. But there may still be a few firsts to come including that first big fat envelope, the one that indicates (thank God) that he will indeed be moving out at the end of August.

This envelope arrived in the middle of November, sooner than anticipated.  Our mail arrives around noon.  I sent a text to my son, urging him to come home during his lunch period because there was a BIG FAT ENVELOPE for him.  His response? "U can open it." Seriously?  I mean, sure, we all knew what it was. We had seen the same envelope before with his older brother so there was hardly any mystery here, but I was kind of hoping he would be excited to know that HE WAS IN!  HE WAS GOING TO COLLEGE! But, no, since we all knew what it was, I could open it. Besides, this was his safety school - last on his list of six.

My response?  "I will not. Photo op."  Parents need every photo opportunity that comes their way when children, well, boys, hit the terrible teenage years and cameras become the enemy.

And there we have another last - the last time your children will cooperate when the camera comes out. You won't know when that day will come, but it will and taking photos ever thereafter will become a chore, one they may come to appreciate in thirty years or so.

Since that day in November, three other envelopes have arrived.  Some were fat and some were thin, but all said congratulations on the letter. One had that precious word right there on the bright yellow envelope in electric blue letters. You couldn't miss it.  The whole neighborhood could see it. That was probably the only big fat envelope that would really count in the end.

There are parents all over town, indeed, all over the country, lamenting these lasts that are to come in the next few months. But it is the one that comes August or September that will really be the most difficult - that day you drop off your child at his first dorm before his orientation and his first day of college or first day of whatever comes next.  For him or her, this will be an exciting first, but for many parents, like my husband and I, it will be a last - the last day before the nest empties.

My nest is only half-empty right now in this snowy February in the middle of this long and cold winter. It was bad enough sending my older son off to the University of Delaware in August 2012, but when his brother (probably, maybe, please?) joins him come this August, well, that is a first and a last I am not quite ready to think about yet.


Layout Notes:

First Day/Last Day. I photoshopped a picture of my son from his first day of Kindergarten into a photo of him as we left for his graduation.  Supplies: photoediting software - Adobe Photoshop Elements; patterned paper - Pink Paislee; chipboard gear - Leaky Shed; clock charms - K and Company; numbers - Tim Holtz Grungeblocks; paint - Plaid; watchparts - unknown source (broken up junk watches); Diamond Glaze; ink - Ranger Distress Ink, Tsukinecko, Color Box; masks - Tim Holtz; spray ink - Tattered Angles Glimmer Mist; paper tape - Tim Holtz; journaling spot - EK Success; number brads - EK Success; sticker letters - Studio K; marker - Micron; metal tape - US Artquest.  

The First Big Fat Envelope.  Supplies: cardstock - unknown; light bulb - Anima Designs; wordband - Tim Holtz; pen ibs - Tim Holtz; clock ring - 7 Gypsies; paint - Deco Art, Ranger Adirondack; Ranger Distress; tape - 7 Gypsies; ticket - Tim Holtz; ink - Ranger Distress, Ranger Archival; stamp letters - Stuido G/Hero Arts; marker - Y and C Gel Extreme, Micron; brads - Doodlebug, Tim Holtz, unknown; metal letters - Making Memories; chipboard letters - Kaiser Craft, Heidi Swapp. Border supplies: sheet metal - Ranger; embossing folder - Tim Holtz; typewriter die - Tim Holtz; glaze - Diamond Glaze, Ranger/Vintaj Glaze; ink - Ranger Alcohol Inks; chipboard lock - Tim Holtz Grungeboard; chipboard quotation marks - unknown; chipboard clock - Dusty Attic; chipboard arrow - Blue Fern; key - unknown; gearsandother keys - Prima, Bead Landing, Michael's, 7 Gypsies, unknown.

Go.  Supplies: background paper - peeled from corrugated cardboard sheet of Creative Memories packaging; cardstock - unknown; patterned paper - SEI; stamps - Stapers Anonymous, Glitz-It Now; wooden typewriteres - Prima; chipbaord doors - Maya Road; paint - Ranger; diecut paper - Basic Grey; font - Microsoft Word; ink - Ranger Distress Ink; marker - Micron; chipboard parenthesis - Creative Imaginations; wooden letters - Pink Paislee; sticker letters - Authentique.