Growing up is about crossing bridges. We stand on one side of a chasm, looking way over yonder, unsure of how we will ever get there.
Growing up is about getting from here to there, yet the path ahead is never clear. Life propels us forward; we hold on to those around us and we step into the chasm. We hope, we pray, we yearn, we strive; we doggedly believe that our footsteps are taking us from here to there, helping us cross the next bridge.
You took that step with us, we all took it together, way back in September. You held onto your child, your teachers, your fellow parents (and anyone else you could grab along the way!), and we stepped forward together. We stepped forward together because we believe that community is that magical elixir that allows the bridge to be broader, safer, and kinder.
Rebbe Nachman, an 18th century Jewish spiritual leader, taught us “The whole world is a narrow bridge; the most important part is to never be afraid.” (This became a popular Hebrew song, “Kol ha’olam kulo, gesher t’zar me’od.”) Growing up is walking this narrow bridge. Yet when we grow up together, in the context of a warm and loving community, the bridge is a little less narrow.
Think of the bridges your child has crossed this year. The students in our school have learned how to make friends, play together, and negotiate social conflict. Our students have figured out how to write letters and numbers, create patterns and shapes, and narrate their own stories. Our students have learned how to navigate lunch, use the bathroom, and clean up the classroom. What bridges has your child crossed this year?
Think of the bridges you have crossed this year. The parents in our school have changed jobs, went from health to illness and back again, and experienced parental loss. Our parents have given birth (a lot this year!), moved apartments, and applied to ongoing schools. Our parents have planned 50+ Parent Association events, mingled in the Common Space, and begun to call the 2nd floor “home.” What bridges have you and your family crossed this year?
I sat with two parents in the Common Space in September, after they had dropped their children off for the very first time; I reminisced with a set of parents recently how this month would mark the end of their daily presence on the 2nd floor for the past seven years. Having greeted you each morning and said goodbye each afternoon, I have seen you take these steps and cross these bridges. We now stand, together again, at the far end of the bridge. Look back to where we started. Can you see September from here? Do you remember what it looked and felt like as you and your child took that first step onto the bridge? Some of us have walked or crawled; some of us have skipped, jumped, or ran. But we’re all here; we’ve crossed these bridges together.
As we grow up and raise our families together, bridges will always remain ahead. Taking off the training wheels, reading a chapter book, preparing for a bat mitzvah; those bridges lie ahead. But let us always cherish those that we have crossed together this year. Let us remember the lesson that no bridge is too narrow when we hold on to those around us. No bridge is too scary when we cross it with our community.