Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Milk Sticks

It was the last day of kindergarten. I stood in the back of Bob's classroom with the other room moms and the two grandma volunteers. I held back tears as we listened to the kids sing Baby Beluga the Whale one final time.

Ms. Vaden stood in front of the board and explained that today, the kids would be taking home their report cards, some paperwork, and their "milk sticks."

On the first day of school, the kindergartners were given tongue depressor sized sticks with their names on them. The children filled in a small self portrait with crayon on both sides. Every morning when they arrived in room ten, the kids each found their stick in a small can and moved it either to the can for white milk, the can for chocolate milk, or the can that represented that they would not be spending fifty cents on milk that day. This was the way attendance was taken and the milk orders were recorded for Mr. Terry so he would know how many milk cartons to deliver to the classroom before snack time.

"Oh, their milk sticks," one of the grandmas repeated with a crack in her voice.

These tiny pieces of wood represented the 180 days of kindergarten. The year our boy started reading and grew three inches in nine months. The year he found Desmond and Felix and Ferruccio and Alessandro and the rest of his pack of guys. The year he found his confidence, his voice, and his love of school.

Next year would mean first grade; hot lunches and homework. They would be with the big kids. There were no milk sticks in first grade.

"Their milk sticks," I repeated. And the tears came.


  1. Aww thats so sweet Lisa. Just goes to show that they grow up so fast.

    Hope Bob loves 1st Grade just as much as he loved Kindergarten and makes loads of new friends. x

  2. It's so true- the tiny things represent all of it. That humble milk stick brought your tears. I absolutely remember how such small things seem to hold the spirit of an entire phase of a child's life.
    Now y'all have a great summer. And keep that milk stick forever.

  3. Awww. Kindergarten is a magical time. They are still so sweet and innocent. They keep that beautiful innocence for a couple more years. Enjoy the sweet time. I never cried when my son got on the bus to go to school for the first time. He was such a social kid and was so thrilled to be with others that it was an amazingly happy day. But when he "graduated" kindergarten, I needed a whole box of kleenex. It's 12th grade for him next year. I might need a Costco pallet of tissues for that graduation.

  4. You are allowed to cry all you want. And when you are a grandma, it will happen all over again. That's how life goes on. Have a wonderful summer.

  5. This was beautiful! Hold on to all the "milk sticks" through Bob's life. Today is my son's last day of 7th grade. Gulp! It goes so fast!

  6. What a lovely post, Lisa. You captured it all - for all of us. (And you choked me up as well.)

    Have a wonderful, memory-filled summer!


  7. Right there with you Lisa. For me it was the extra long hugs and "Will you come with me to my locker since it's the last day?"

  8. Remarkable, your very touching writing on such a seemingly mundane thing. I enjoyed it.


  9. I have a fourth grader now. It is so hard to believe how quickly the time flies. xoxo

  10. Oh man. I don't even have children and you made me cry about the milk sticks!

  11. Kindergarten graduation -- he's movin' on up! I felt similarly attached to the name tag from Mooch's desk. Aw... the milk sticks. I love it when something unfamiliar becomes so normal that you don't really think of the individual words anymore. I bet the phrase "milk stick" is like that for Bob. Have a great summer. Also, if Bob's buddy is named Ferruccio and not Fiorruccio (as was previously reported) then just ignore yesterday's comment. Extra ignore it.

  12. thanks for making me cry. my little boy starts pre-school in just over a month, and I'm so not ready.