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Another Day in the Country

What are the odds?

© Another Day in the Country

Back in April, when I was about to get on an airplane and fly back to Kansas from California, my daughter said: “I’ll send you the date for Dagfinnr’s eighth grade graduation, and you can make your reservation to come, Mom! We’ll see you then!”

The invitation eased my sadness in leaving. It’s tough, sometimes, living far away from my family.

Within a few days, Jana texted me the date: June 10. It was hard to believe that my grandson was actually done with elementary school. It seemed like only yesterday he was starting kindergarten!

How well I remember the end-of-the-year school program when he was in kindergarten. I wasn’t there, but his mother called me all distraught, “Guess what happened,” she said, and proceeded to tell the story.

It seemed that all the 5-year-olds were going to learn to play the ukulele — three simple chords. The plan was that they would then perform for their parents at the school program.

There was a choice in kindergarten to spend the whole day at school (an accommodation for working parents) or just come half days

“He’ll just do half days,” my daughter decided. “He has plenty of full days of school in his future!”

It just so happened that afternoons were when the kids did most of their ukulele practice. Dagfinnr was there only mornings. No one was tracking how little instruction he was getting on the ukulele.

Now comes the performance, and the ukulele band is presented. All the kids are strumming away with gusto, but my grandson isn’t playing. He just decided to sit this one out. His parents were aghast.

“What kind of a child have I raised?” My daughter wailed in my ear.

“You’re overreacting,” I soothed. “He’s only 5 years old. This doesn’t mean he’ll be a failure in school.”

Far from failing, it turns out he’s the co-valedictorian of his eighth grade class and had to make a speech at graduation.

His Baba was not going to miss this, so she made a reservation, immediately, to fly to California on June 9 for the big occasion the very next day.

On June 8, my daughter called.

“There’s a problem, Mom,” she said. “They changed the date of eighth grade graduation, and I didn’t catch it until just now. The program is the ninth of June and not the 10th at 6 p.m.”

I frantically tried to change flights, but none were available to deliver me to California in time for eighth grade graduation at the Howell Mountain Charter School, where my grandson would be giving his first ever speech.

At approximately 6:15, my grandson stood on the podium, ready to give his speech. I was in Denver about to take off for Oakland.

“My name is Dagfinnr,” he said. “I’ve lived here all my life, schooled here all my life, and done everything here all my life. That’s about to change. Well not all of that. I’ll still live here.”

He was doing pretty well and had everyone’s attention while I was high above the clouds heading west.

When he was born, 14 years ago, I was 70! Most folk in Kansas are great-grandparents by this time.

“I wonder how many graduations for this child I’ll get to see?” I mused.

Time seemed short!

“How old will I be when he turns 18?”

I figured it out.

“Whew! Old!”

Averages were not exactly in my favor.

I was now somewhere over Utah while my grandson was telling the audience that he’d calculated that he’d spent 30% of his entire lifetime at this school, and the people there had become like a second family.

“This school is a major shareholder in Dagfinnr stock — sleep sold separately,” he quipped, with humorous intent. “The prospect of having to acclimate to a new environment is daunting.”

He was moving right along. And, yes, he wrote this all by himself, using words like “acclimate” and “daunting.” And, yes, he gave me his approval for using these portions of his intellectual property.

Nothing but clouds were visible from the tiny window on the plane as he told the audience that these kids moving nine miles down the hill to St. Helena High School had their experiences at Howell Mountain School to guide them.

“We were all new here at one point, too,” he said.

After applause and more speeches by dignitaries, the ceremony was over, and my family jumped into a car and headed for Oakland Airport, where I hadn’t even landed yet. It’s a 1½-hour drive from Napa Valley.

It was just another day in the country, and at the end of it I’d arrived in the city, a wiser woman who’d vowed to double-check the date of her grandchild’s next graduation.

Last modified July 8, 2021

 

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