Making the Grade

Since this weekend is Mother's Day, I thought I would honor my mother by sharing an idea that I believe came from her almost 50 years ago. 

In the late 60's and early 70's, the first day of school was a special ritual in the Slater household on 20 Warwick Circle. Besides setting out our clothes the night before, waking early and eating a good breakfast- we all had to be on the front steps for pictures. These were no ordinary pictures. Each of us (Diane, Mitchell and I) had to represent our grade by holding up the appropriate number of fingers. The photograph to the left is my first day of my senior year in September 1971. 

"I assumed that everyone had to suffer through this 1st day of school photo ritual. My mother would arrange us on the front steps as my father would snap the photos."

Oddly, as I scanned through my albums, I could only find this one image of me going into 12th grade. Diane would have been at the University of Hartford and Mitchell was probably waiting for Bruce Springsteen to show up at the Dairy Queen. Many of the photos might be in Diane and Mitchell's books- but I can't account for these missing snapshots. Maybe it was all a dream? Even with these photos missing, I still loved this ritual for many reasons. It symbolized a new beginning, a fresh start and we couldn't leave the house until it was done. 

The Tradition Continues
When our girls started school, it was hard to resist the urge to do the same thing. True to form- I did. The girls will have to represent how it made them feel either in their own blogs or by commenting on this one.  But for me, it symbolized a new beginning, a fresh start and I too wouldn't’ let them leave the house until it was done. These pictures represent some very precious moments later for me. They lasted for 1/250th of a second and then those moments dissipated into thin air. At least I can hold onto these wonderful images. 

Sarah in 3rd grade and Fanny in Kindergarten in 1989

Fanny in first grade and Sarah in 5th grade

Fanny in 3rd grade and Sarah enters 7th grade
Sarah in 9th and Fanny in 5th grade

Fanny starts 7th and Sarah starts 11th

Fanny in 8th and Sarah in 12th
The cheese stands alone as Fanny enters
9th grade as Sarah goes to UNC
Rituals have meaning that are hard to comprehend especially when you are in the midst of an experience. You can’t see how they bond and connect you even in the silliness of a photo opportunity. But looking back over 20 plus years of school, I know that it reinforced for Sarah and Fanny something that I have tried to instilled in them that time really does fly and that they need to smile, breathe and take in each moment. 

One second you are welcoming them into the world and the next moment they are getting ready for fifth grade. Before you know it they graduate from high school and move on to college and graduate school. It happens so suddenly and in a snap they are out of school and we have to find new rituals to celebrate life and our connections.
From The Book- First Day of School 

Sarah's first day of school to the beginning of graduate school 
These first day of school photographs capture some of these memorable mornings that take you from transitions in clothes, hair and attitude. I wonder if someday the ritual will continue with their children? 

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