Until this year.
This year our Baby Prince (waving to Tim!) enters 6th grade...and now that 6th is considered "middle school" I no longer have, nor will I ever have again, an elementary student. One of the evidences of that is the frequent calls to the "A team" girls, asking them if they need a 3rd grade spelling book or the teacher's manual to this or that arithmetic curriculum. And this time I'm not asking them if they want to borrow the books, but to take them permanently and put them on a shelf in a home with a lot of young students left to come.
Anyone who's taught a child to read or watched her do her very first sums knows there's no feeling in the world like it. And so despite my joy at the way my kids are growing up and growing out, the shedding of the primers and flash cards brings a pang of sadness. Sure, I still have lots of homeschooled grandchildren, but I possess neither the primary responsibility for, nor the immediate satisfaction of, educating them. I'm a resource, a cheerleader, a facilitator and mentor, but gone are my days of being the first-grade teacher of a child who sits at my table and sleeps under my roof. Joy comes now from watching my daughters be the teachers...from watching them exult when their little ones walk through the "wardrobe" of phonics and enter that Narnian world of print, changing their lives forever.
I am more blessed than I can say to have lived long enough to watch the next generation of children who get to have the world opened to them from inside the walls of their very own homes. But as I gratefully pass that mantle on to a new set of parents, I watch with just a little bit of sadness...