Do you know how sometimes you can have pent-up nerves and worries about something and not truly know you have them until the nerves and worries vanish, popping like a balloon? Only then can you exhale and realize that they were there, wrapping themselves around your mind and heart, like some stubborn vine.
It's been that way with this whole end-of-grade testing process. Although I am proud of myself this year in that I did not let the whole experience consume us all the way it did last year (I was a basket case last year, I confess), the week of L.'s math and reading tests and the week of waiting for the results did weigh on me--how could they not? And if I had once thought I'd escape the anxiety of it all, I must have been delusional. On Tuesday I was a mess of nerves. I left a workshop meeting early, without a word to any of my colleagues. I needed to be the one to pick up L. from school. I needed to be the one to get his test results. I needed to be there. You see, I had a creeping, stubborn glimmer of Mama hope in my gut that L. would pass.
And he did--and then some.
Out of all the hundreds and thousands of milestone moments you witness as a parent and tell yourself you'll hold onto for the rest of your life, Tuesday afternoon was one of them for me. I'll never forget the teachers who rallied around L. in the parking lot while he opened up the white envelope with his test results. I'll never forget his open-mouthed shock and astonishment as he looked at the results. I'll never forget the immense swelling of pride inside of me--the pride that stretched the insides of my heart tight, until I thought I'd pop right there.
Truthfully, I'm still not sure I care about the numbers on the paper--my pride in my son and his many accomplishments would be there no matter what. The numbers, though, represent so much more to us, because of what they mean to L. When you see your child living a moment that is filled with emotions he hasn't had the chance to enjoy much--emotions so many kids have experienced over and over again: success, pride in his own work, the glow of accomplishment, the feeling of self-worth that can flood you from head to toe, you can't help but want to split yourself open and cry, right there on the blacktop.
Nothing is more heart-breaking than to see a child's self-esteem erode away, piece by precious piece; nothing is more beautiful than to watch him gain it back.