Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Looking back... by Paula Quinn

It seems like yesterday I was strolling my daughter Samantha around in her pram, smiling proudly at the neighbors who stopped to gaze at her minky curls and tiny nose.

I remember her first day of kindergarten with clarity and how Sam cried when it was time for me to leave her classroom. Her teacher let me stay with her for two weeks, weaning her away slowly. But she stopped missing me with the arrival of a class rabbit. First grade was marked by Sam's budding creativity, Junie B Jones books, her first real heartbreak when the class hamster died, and her refusal to practice writing her letters. She preferred drawing to writing, much to my dismay. Second grade was a challenge. Her teacher was new and lost control of her twenty-seven seven year olds. When the principal questioned the children about how they felt in their classroom, it was Sam who spoke up, explaining in her soft, lispy voice that none of the kids felt safe when pencils were flying around like "air-a-planes."
Oh, third grade and phone calls from the principal that Sam's new school project was causing quite a stir. You see, Samantha loves animals and during a trip to Rockefeller Center, she discovered just how fur coats are made. That was the year we learned she had a photographic memory. That, equaled with her talent for drawing (remember first grade?) produced some very impressive artwork of naked women ice skating with word bubbles hanging over their mouths, that read. "I'd rather go NAKED than wear fur!" Her compassion for animals and people continued to grow.
Sam had the same teacher for fourth and fifth grade. There were times I thought we'd never get through those two years. We learned that she was dyslexic, but what she lacked in the written word, she more than made up for verbally. She had become the spokesperson for every kid she felt was being treated unfairly. Her passions were as deep and complex as her logic, and though still as softly spoken as she was when she was seven, she fought hard for what she believed was right—and won.
Middle school was a hodgepodge of emotions, making new friends, learning how to travel on her own, coming into herself in all those fun ways that pre-teens do, but she made it through with flying colors.
Today my baby graduated and will be attending High School in the fall. Watching her accept her diploma brought me back to those early years. Where did the time go? When did I lose my little girl?
When her name was called, her classmates cheered. Her teacher dipped her head to the microphone and said, “Samantha has a beautiful spirit and demonstrates genuine care and concern for those around her. She will inevitably be one of the people who make the world a better place to be in.”
Oh yes, I thought, taking my husband’s hand, there’s my girl, growing up and still making her mom and dad so very, very proud.

Samantha has long since traded in her drawing pencils for pens and journals and is becoming quite the writer. (Happy mom!) The following is an excerpt from a poem she wrote that appears in her yearbook.

We couldn’t wait
Now I wish I could slow down time
Just another month, or even a week
It’s crazy how you really don’t realize
What you have until it’s gone
Friends you knew since grade school
Everyone’s going their separate ways
We have to move on
I think about things we’ve been through
But already the memories seem far away
And I want to rewind and pause
Things I never thought I would miss Are suddenly the things I never want to forget….”


Kelley St. John said...

Oh, Paula, this one touched my heart, particularly since I'll be going through high school graduation with my oldest next year. What a wonderful post! Definitely started my day off right :)

Congratulations to your daughter on her graduation...and to mom for depicting it so beautifully.



Paula Quinn said...

Thank you, Kelley :) Congratulations on your son for next year, as well. Out of all our accomplishments, seeing them graduate is among the best.

Diane Perkins said...

What a lovely tribute to a wonderful daughter! Her poem was fantastic. And I have no doubt she will make a difference in the world!