Anxiety of Letting Go · 30 May 2010

After fifteen years of teaching, you would think that it would get easier to watch the seniors leave. You would think that the melancholy I always feel would lessen. You would think that knowing I will see very few of them in the future would become less of a heart break. But this year is different. This year, I have my own senior. He is not just leaving school, he is leaving home.

I usually get a little surly at home toward the end of the school year. My wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, nailed it on the head many years ago when she pinpointed the cause as stress over having to let go. Stress of having to say, “Goodbye,” to seniors. Especially, those who had come to mean so much to me because of the years we spent together. My years of experience have never helped to lessen the blow of having to part with my kids or the angst of anticipating the moment. However, this year, I do not think I have not behaved as poorly at home as I have in years past.

I attribute my better behavior on my poorer behavior over the past year. I have had a very hard time seeing my oldest boy, Thing 1, grow up. That letting go process started when I first met him almost 15 years ago. I still remember those big blue eyes looking at me with love, trusting that I would take care of and protect him and his mom. I remember the laughter and tears, joy and pain, triumphs and mistakes of being a parent and watching my kids grow. Those memories and the promise to take care of and protect my family made it difficult to let go. I had a difficult time looking at my young man without seeing my little boy. Especially, this past year when I knew he was preparing to leave our nest. As a consequence, this past year, I lived all that tension and angst (usually reserved for the end of every school year) for much too long. And like she did before, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi pointed out that it was because I was having a very difficult time letting my little boy grow up to be a man.

I believe that I have come to terms with my boy growing up and leaving to seek his own way. For the most part, he has become such a nice young man. He has his faults like everybody does, and like most parents, I am far too conscious of them. But hopefully, I have told him I love him and am proud of him more often than I have told him I was disappointed in him. Hopefully, I have helped more than hurt his efforts to become his own man. Hopefully, I have prepared him for life without his parents.

Those same hopes are what I have for my students. I hope that I have helped prepare them for life outside my classroom. I hope that I have given them something of lasting value for their time spent with me. I hope they come back and visit me sometime.

Thankfully, my wife and I have a reason for our own son to come back and see us. Actually, two reasons. His little brothers. And while I may not have the same hold on my students, I still like to at least hear from them.

The school year is still not over, but I believe I have been easier on my family than most years at this time. Maybe the stress of saying, “Goodbye,” has lessened over the years, but I doubt it. Hopefully, I have used up all the stress and anxiety of my students and my own child leaving with my bad behavior over the past year. Maybe I can have good behavior for the rest of the school year. Maybe the years of teaching and parenting have finally helped me attain that even keel and helped me manage my stress better. I guess we will see next year at this time. Or when our next son is about to graduate.

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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