I remember several years ago my sister was talking with me about “lasts.” She commented that when our kids are little, we celebrate every first - first giggle, first tooth, first steps - you get the idea. And on and on. Even through college.
But we rarely take notice of their lasts. Do we know the last time they will crawl? Do we pay attention to the last time they will finger paint? What about the last time our child is small enough to pick up and hold on our hip? She was making a point to really tune in and embrace the “lasts” so they don’t just fade into the past with no memory link. No celebration of marking time.
At the time of that conversation, her three kids were not quite double-digits and mine were newborns. I really took her comments to heart and I’ve spent the last 17 years looking carefully at our days so those lasts don’t pass me by.
Fast forward about 13 years. Both my kids have attended the same small private school since 2008. It’s been a great school for us and my youngest is about to graduate and enter a local public high school. While my oldest has always been interested in tradition and building special moments, my youngest just isn’t that crazy about it. He enjoys fun times, and enjoys the traditions, but doesn’t necessarily seek them out.
At our small school this week, we are holding our annual book fair. I’ve always loved attending the book fair with my kids. I remember when times were tough I would save for weeks to be able to buy several books and do-dads for them. We would wander around and look at the selection - noting which of our favorite authors had new books out and which one’s we’d outgrown. I loved those times.
This week, we will be out of school Wed - Fri so I wanted to be sure we attended the book fair early. I asked my youngest, the one in 8th grade, if he wanted to go after school. He said no. He told me that they looked at it during History class and he didn’t really see anything he wanted. I looked deep in his eyes to confirm he really didn’t want to go. “No, Mom, I’m good,” he said.
But I wasn’t. I started to cry.
It took me only a second to realize that for me, this is a last memory waiting to happen. It’s the last time we’ll attend this small book fair with kids at the school. I realized that while my son may not need to go, I did.
I pulled over and explained that for me, this is a special tradition and I’m not ready to let it go. I told him that when we went last year, I thought we’d go again this year, so I didn’t get to embrace the last book fair event for our family.
He understood and we pulled in the parking lot. We walked in together, and like the great kid he is, he stayed with me and we reminisced about authors we’ve loved and books we’ve loved. I found one that I think the kids and I will enjoy, so I didn’t leave empty-handed.
I’m glad that I quickly realized what the problem was. I know I would have regretted not stopping at the book fair this year. And I’m so grateful for a child who understands my need to engage in tradition for building memories, even if he’s not invested in it. He did it for me and that communicates a love that will long live in the memory of our last book fair.
What “last” do you need to celebrate soon?