During the 4th of July weekend, our family visited my parents in the small town I grew up in. It was nice to see familiar faces and catch up on things. My son, a very curious nine year old (as most nine year olds are), asked what I did for fun when I was his age. He is aware that my childhood was not filled with smartphones, tablets, handheld gaming devices, or streaming video on demand, a.k.a. The Dark Ages. Reminiscing for a moment, I responded, “Well, we played outside a lot, especially around the creek down by the bridge.” Immediately, he wanted to check out this creek. Seeing neighbors heading the same way to let their dogs cool off, we joined them on the two block journey to the creek.
Walking with my son along a pathway I had followed many times myself, I couldn’t help but notice how life tends to circle back on itself. For example, I grew up in a large, historic home in a small town. We now have our eyes on a large, historic home in a small town (Mineral Point). Also, I started my career as a teacher in a rural school with a lot of community support. Seventeen years later, I am coming back to a rural school with a lot of community support. The journeys I have taken in my past experiences, both physically and emotionally, are becoming opportunities to start over again. Familiar as my surroundings may seem, new possibilities are just around the corner.
It is not just me that is preparing for this transition. My family is preparing for a move that none of us expected. The students, staff and families of Mineral Point Elementary School are preparing for a new principal. Former colleagues and connections in Wisconsin Rapids are preparing for the next principal at Howe Elementary School. I can empathize with both the excitement and the anxieties that this type of change can bring. No amount of preparation will fully temper or ease these feelings. And why should we? Life is a series of transitions. Taking time to acknowledge both emotions has been helpful for me to be present in and to enjoy the moments.
When my son and I arrived at the creek, we looked down from the bridge at the gentle rapids, teeming with darting minnows above a somewhat rocky bottom visible through the clear water. “How did you get down to the creek? Did you go in barefoot?” he asked. I explained that my brothers, friends and I threw on old tennis shoes to avoid stepping on any sharp rocks on the creek bed. More confident, he climbed down the side of the bank and stepped into the cold water with the neighbors. He was wearing Crocs, shoes I wish I would have had back then. Still, I didn’t feel the need to revisit the past for too long. As familiar as it might be, I am looking forward to what the future might bring.