My adorably hilarious nephew is 6, and he's a pretty brave kid. He did inherit his mother's preciously tender heart, which I love with all of my own semi-tender heart, but he also is all boy, so the sweetness comes out when you least expect it. And I love that.
This year, Caleb graduated from kindergarten. My sister teaches language arts at a school near his campus, so getting him to and from class has been an interesting set of logistics to work out. At first, he was expectedly sad to see her go. Then other older students of hers started walking him to class, and things smoothed out a little.
About a month ago, my parents visited them for a weekend and took Caleb to school on the Monday morning before they left to go back home. According to my parents, he was super big and brave, and walked to the door with his backpack (looking much like a little man, I'm sure), then turned around and waved bye and proceeded into his building. My parents lost it. It's hard saying goodbye to kids anyway, but their only grandson, and looking so grown up, and being so brave... You know. Tough stuff.
Later, my parents learned that after Caleb entered his school building, he lost it as well. School starts early (I'm not sure how early, but you remember the outrageous times those first bells would ring), and apparently Caleb's teacher could not get him calmed down until around 8:30. In kindergarten time, I'm pretty sure that's like 4 days.
Later, when my sister talked to my nephew about why he was so upset, he explained very simply, "I don't know, Mom. I'm always ok till the turnaround."
Thankfully, things like his sweet teacher, recess, and even math can help distract him.
This weekend, I am in a place I love deeply and that I resided in for nearly ten years. Ten very crucial post-college, growing up years, I might add. Jackson, Mississippi holds a plethora of beautiful memories and coming-of-age markers for me, but it also holds some bittersweet pivotal life points, as well.
I knew before this visit that it wouldn't be 1,000% rosy. A friend was dying. His wife is aching, while still trying to function and work at her paying job, and work even harder to take care of him and their children. And even aside from that, I've had enough emotional precursors over the past few months to realize that this trip would hold more than just a feta dressing fix from Keifer's and long laughs with my best-good girlfriends.
This trip to Jackson is definitely a turnaround for me. Change was in my air before I even got in my car to make this drive, and I am really, truly happy about it. I've been given a few opportunities for some new beginnings, and much to my own surprise, I'm lapping them up like an overplayed puppy would a fresh pan of cold milk.
Even so, Caleb is right. Athough I'm walking into a wealth of opportunity for learning and life experiences, the turnaround is hard. I know that when I turn around, something beautiful will happen, it will further my life education, and I am prepared to make the absolute most of it that I can. But a look back at the old can still make one cry -- whether one is a 33-year-old career chickadee or 6-year-old kindergarten grad.
After thinking a lot about Caleb's and my own situations, I think it's ok to get emotional at the turnaround -- it honors the good times you had in the past, and lets your peeps know they're loved and valued. In fact, it might be odd to NOT get emotional at the turnaround.
But part of the turnaround is in the actual turning, and the bright, unlimited possibilities that await.
Which will be super cool, much like kickball at recess.