It has been exactly one week since summer vacation began for my children, and already, we are off to a great start.
The lunchboxes have been wiped clean and are sitting on the bottom shelf in the pantry. The school uniforms are folded and stored in the closet, waiting to be donned again in August. The backpacks have been emptied of their stray bits of paper, crayon and pencil stubs and old notebooks. But, the other day, as I went about organizing the closet by the mudroom, I came across the shoes.
It has only been a week, and I almost forgot about the shoes.
The white tennis shoes, a required part of the school uniform, have seen better days.
In fact, they saw every single day of the school year.
The good days and the bad ones.
Here they are on the first day, white and shiny and full of promise and enthusiasm.
And here they are on the last day, well-traveled and full of a year's worth of experience.
Just like my children.
The large Puma shoes all the way to the left finished fourth grade this year. They tapped the ground while the wearer was deep in thought over solving a long division problem. They ran the mile in gym class. They stood flat and facing forward during the 4th grade recorder concert in March. They walked patiently and excitedly through the cafeteria hot food line every Friday for pizza day.
The Nike shoes in the middle finished third grade this year. They walked reverently down the church aisle on a cold winter Wednesday morning to present the gifts at Mass during the offertory. They marched into school on a weekday morning, convinced that whatever happened the previous day didn't matter because every day is a new day to start fresh. They tapped the floor nervously during standardized testing in October. They schlepped to and fro as their wearer told a funny story to make his friends laugh. They strode confidently up to the front of the classroom to deliver a speech about The Great Ohio Flood.
The Wilson shoes all the way to the right finished Kindergarten this year. They rambled hesitatingly into the classroom on a warm day in late August, unsure of what to expect at, "The Big School". They jumped up and down while singing a song. They sat quietly in a, "criss-cross-applesauce" position. They traipsed and dragged a heavy bag of 100 metal Matchbox cars for the 100th day of school. They paraded out of school proudly while their owner proclaimed, "I'm a first grader now!"
These shoes have lived well. They have served their purpose. It is time for them to retire.
But oh, the stories they could tell.