School was out for the year three weeks ago now. The boys picked out their last-day-of-school outfits just as deliberately as they had picked their first.
Willem nicely bookended his academic year with Hawaiian shirts. Nels's shirt (a reference to the Diary of A Wimpy Kid book series) may overstate the case somewhat, but personality-wise he definitely has an absent-minded professor thing going on.
Usually the last day of school is a jubilant affair, but the mood this year was surprisingly somber. When I went to pick the boys up, I saw Willem's teacher give each of her kids a huge squeeze as she sent them off home. The past year was her first in the classroom after being the PE teacher for several years, and she loved her students like crazy. Watching her, I totally lost it and started crying. Actually, I'm starting to tear up right now just thinking about it.
I wiped the tears off my face and smiled at Willem. "How was your last day of school?"
"Oh, it was all right. I had to try hard not to cry all day."
When I mentioned to one of the other moms how weird the vibe was, she suggested it might be because of the school boundary changes. Well, of course that was it. Almost a third of the students at Helen Baller will be going to a different school next year, with even more new students replacing them. Some of the teachers will be moving as well. I even found out through the grapevine that our beloved librarian will be changing schools. I haven't told the boys yet, because I don't want to ruin their summer.
As I walked the boys to the car, I tried to rally the troops. "Aren't you guys excited? It's summer!"
"Yeah, I guess," they said in sad little voices.
They couldn't stay blue for long, though, because they'd been invited to a swim party at our local outdoor pool before it even opened to the public. The woman who manages the pool rented it for a birthday party for her nephew, and also invited forty of her children's friends to celebrate the start of summer. Nels and Willem were thrilled to swim for an hour. A rainstorm blew in just as they were finishing up their post-swim shaved ice. We walked home in the downpour to find packages from Grandpa Scott waiting on our doorstep.
My dad has designed the (award-winning) artwork for the Ski to Sea race in Bellingham, Washington for many years (with a few years off here and there). In our packages were hoodies, posters, and t-shirts from the latest race. The bedraggled boys were quick to snuggle into the sweatshirts and arm themselves with the party favors they'd just brought home. Summer: looking up.