Years ago when I lived in Japan, a friend of mine returned with a sad face after attending an elementary school graduation ceremony. The problem, my friend commented, was that the graduating kids showed up to school wearing the uniforms they would wear in middle school. It was pushing too soon, my friend thought. Her comment was “Let them be shōgakusei (elementary school students) a little while longer.”
I thought about that last week as I watched the graduation of my younger son from elementary school. My son finished off the year with one of his classes performing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” attending a sock hop, a graduation ceremony followed by a final walk through the halls. The post graduation festivities included a lunch with friends and an evening pool party. Two days later, my younger son wanted to go back to elementary school.
My wife and I had expected such a reaction. As the day had drawn nearer, our son had admitted her wasn’t ready to move on. Only the realization that his friends were leaving too, ready to move on to middle school, kept him going.
I’m not sure my wife and I were ready either, as if watching him leave meant we no longer had a younger kid in the house. It was easier watching our older son move on. He seemed ready to move. Due to our cross-country move from Portland to Atlanta back when our older son was in third grade, our older son lost three months of school. We petitioned the school to have him repeat (something which he has still not forgiven us for). He studies as if he’s trying to catch up. My younger son seems content where he is. My wife and I were also content.
“Let them be shōgakusei a little while longer.” I couldn’t agree more.