When I was a kid I used to make pretty good trades.
I once got a brand new Barbie with silky brunette locks because a friend liked the matted blonde mess on my doll better. And nearly every Saturday morning I got to watch Wonder Woman because I conceded the marshmallows in the Lucky Charms box to my brother.
Yesterday I made a trade that not so easy.
Emily went off to her first day of high school yesterday. We inched through the morning carpool line, a slow crawl to “Freshmen Welcome Day,” and a precious last few moments together before the next chapter of her life began. I knew what was coming, and each rotation of my tires brought the trade closer. There was a steady stream of cars, each had nervous freshmen and anxious emotional parents, all of us waiting for the inevitable exchange. By the time we rounded towards the entrance, the energy was palpable. The band played, faculty and staff along with upperclassmen (over 400 of whom gave up their last day of summer vacation to volunteer!) clapped and cheered to welcome my daughter and her classmates to the school community.
In slow motion the trade took place. We pulled up to the front of the line, to the embrace of the throngs of cheering, smiling students. I was greeted at my window by a lovely staff member who handed me a muffin and wished me a good day. An upperclassman moved in, handed me a magnet for my car and welcomed me to Gibbons. And while I was being distracted by baked goods and pleasantries from polite teenagers, Emily was whisked out of my car by students waiting to greet and welcome her.
And just like that, before I had time for one last goodbye, she was gone. They took her by the hand and helped her on her way.
The trade was made.
They took her. And I got a muffin. And a magnet.
They should have given tissues too. My eyes welled once I lost sight of her in the crowd and the mom in my rearview mirror bawled, wiping a steady stream of tears from her cheeks.
Some trades are easy, some are more complicated, and some are just plain hard. This one was all the above for me. It tugged at my heart-strings and made my heart explode with excitement for her and all that lies ahead these next four years.
Another milestone. Another reminder to savor the years, the days, the moments.
And yes, cause to savor the trades too – the easy and the difficult. There is always good to be found in the exchanges that come our way and the trades that pepper our paths; some are magically delicious and some should come with Kleenex.
And some leave me to marvel at the joy that comes with a muffin, a magnet, and a smiling teenage daughter.