We’re two days away from the end of school. Tomorrow morning Elihu’s class will move to their new, sixth grade room, the symbolism unmistakable to us both as they move downstairs to join the middle school-aged children, leaving the younger grades upstairs. Elihu’s teacher is also leaving, and a new one (whom, btw, we are both incredibly excited about) is arriving. Lots of shifts going on in a small amount of time. Plus the seasons have changed now too; Spring feels to have formally concluded with a glorious and moving graduation ceremony for the Waldorf twelfth graders on Friday night. The days are finally clear and sunny, neighbors buzz over on four wheelers for impromptu visits, frogs can be seen each night hopping across the roads, and gone is the ever-present demand on us to fulfill academic commitments. And man, it feels friggin great.
Still in his pajamas at breakfast, Elihu enjoys wearing the comfy, cozy socks that he knit for himself in handwork class. I am so impressed. I can make a killer Halloween costume, but textiles, threads and such leave me confused and intimidated.
Elisabeth multi-tasks; talking on the office phone while ringing the school bell to start the day. It makes the most resonant and lovely sound (it does not induce stress as the mechanized ones in large schools do) and if my wishes could be so easily granted, all schools everywhere would have em.
The fifth grade visits Congress park to identify and draw some trees.
Turns out the eleventh grade is here too, studying cloud formations.
Elihu and a pal refer to their tree guide.
Elihu shows a giant seedpod and guesses it might be from a Catalpa.
At the end of the trip, fascination with ducks takes over.
Back at school in the morning light. By nine o’clock the kids here have already done a lot, and yet the other area schools aren’t quite started for the day. We start early, but we also end early. In the beginning I dreaded the new and earlier schedule, but as it turns out I really like it better.
Elihu gives his book report, his final large work for the year.
The second to last eurythmy class I’ll play with my son for a while. I don’t play for the sixth or seventh grades… Phooey. I’m getting sentimental.
Same room, new event. The twelfth grade will give a performance for all the other grades. Seating is tight – and creative, as every available spot, window sills included, are used.
Have never enjoyed playing another piano more. Smooth and rich like butter with just the perfect amount of high end.
And look what I found on the piano one morning this week – along with two chocolate kisses! It was so very touching – and no one is copping to it. Wish I knew who to thank…
A performance of a poem about a wizard and a lizard.
And again, another use of the room for the weekly school assembly in which all grades come together and sing.
At recess Cally draws horses and dragons while Fiona chats and Elihu dreams.
This is the other building where the high school meets. Complete with pond and ducks!
It’s time for the children’s final formal goodbyes to the graduating class.
The event takes place in the high school’s eurythmy room. On the left is the fifth grade, making their presentation gift to the seniors, seated on the right. Abigail was also their teacher – from first through eighth grade – so this is a particularly sentimental occasion.
Another bittersweet moment as Abigail says her final goodbye to Elihu in the fifth grade classroom as his teacher.
After school it’s back to the park for more duck action. See how easily he just picks up this baby.
Is there anything cuter than a duckling??
Of course he always shares his finds. He is ambassador to the bird world.
A sweet little snippet of the duckling’s release and the girls’ response.
My legally blind child spots the mama duck on her tidy nest under a tree, something I and every other person (and dog) in that park seemed to have missed. Hiding in plain sight, I guess.
Happy ending – we learned yesterday that her clutch hatched successfully!
The historic Canfield Casino, which stands in the center of Congress Park. The Waldorf graduation ceremony is held here. (The duck pond is just beyond on the right.)
A view from across the pond of Elihu catching ducks, and an audience stopping to watch. There’s a little-known song by Cole Porter called “Municipal Park”, the refrain of which extols the virtues of a pleasant, picturesque city park. I can never help but sing it over and over to myself when we linger here. This place really is kinda like something from a storybook. So perfect it’s almost comic.
The view Eastward of the Casino from the duck pond. My father’s Festival of Baroque Music performed Bach’s B minor Mass in the great hall many summers ago.
Elihu peeks into the almost completely hollow ancient willow tree. He tells me he sees something. I, of little faith, take a picture and confidently declare there is nothing inside but a few pieces of trash…
…but a closer look proves him right, and me wrong. I shoulda known. (Look more closely at the dark spot. It’s a duckling.)
Two of my favorite colors together. In fact, when I first learned that Elihu had not only low vision but was also completely colorblind, I sat in the lobby of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, sobbing because my son would never know what it was to see magenta and spring green next to each other. Kids without hair on their heads were walking past me, wheeling their IV poles alongside them, and there I was, crying about something so ridiculously petty by comparison; something which actually turned out to be entirely irrelevant to my child’s ability to thrive in the world. Without benefit of color, my son probably notices the beauty around him more keenly than most people. It may even be part of the reason he is so observant. Life if full of paradoxes and irony.
Later that evening, we head back to town for the graduation ceremony. It appears Saratoga is seeing some of its summertime residents return again for the season.
We run into a large rabbit en route. Strange.
Little Cooper lost a tooth during the ceremony and shows off the new hole.
Richard leads everyone in a verse of the school song (which he wrote and arranged).
Julia and Alex play and sing a piece for their contribution.
And so does the whole class, most of whom have been together since first grade. Not a dry eye in the house.
Eryn receives her diploma from Abigail.
The Casino is possibly the most elegant venue I’ve ever seen.
Elihu and Eryn, both children of teacher Abigail.
Elihu hangs with the big boys – these eighth graders will be in high school next fall. Wow.
Ahmed surprises Elihu with this maneuver. He is a charming, spirited young man.
Before we joined grandma for supper, Elihu and I stopped to hear this awesome duo rocking the hell out of their portable truck bed setup. My batteries died right after, but I was able to get a couple of seconds of their sound… pretty cool, I think…
Short, but kickin, right?
We wrap up the night with some busking. Rule of the street is if you sit in with someone you don’t put out your jar – you do it for the joy of a jam. After some scouting around for his new spot for the year we were given a good suggestion by a magician we met who was packing up for the night. After sitting in with these folks, Elihu ended his night in the new spot and made a good take. Thanks, Aaron, kind of you to suggest it!
I can never seem to judge just when to end these short vids. Ended just as the guy was getting Elihu’s name… that can sometimes be a train wreck, so I stopped it there. As it turned out, he got the pronunciation right and thanked him for joining them.
So, how do you pronounce this crazy name? El ih hyoo. Not as intuitive a pronunciation as you’d think. Even to me it kinda looks like it might well be ‘El I hoo’. And that dipthong – the ‘hyoo’ part – that has many folks whose first languages aren’t English rather confounded. His Pakistani grandfather still calls him ‘El ee hoo’. I kinda thought I’d simply avoid the whole thing and he’d just be an Eli in ‘real life’, but he himself told me at the age of four that Eli was not his name. His name was Elihu. And he meant it.
It seems my son knew himself pretty well for a four year old, and he still has a good sense of self for an eleven year old kid too. Good thing, because it will serve him well as he continues to navigate through the many shifts yet ahead in his full and wonderful life.