THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY
April 12, 2016

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Leaving Home, Part 2

Thank you for all of the kind, supportive words as we send our son off to college, Poetry Friday friends! I appreciated your comments last week.

Today was the big day. I dropped the kid off at the airport first thing this morning. I was teary, but I did not cry! By noon, he had made his way to CWRU, found his dorm room, and met some fellow early-arrivals. His texts started to get a little cagey after that. When he began to tease me for being nosey, I knew he was fine. Whew.

Sending our guy off into the world got me thinking. Robbie had just finished 5th grade when I began working on the manuscript that became THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY. This summer, Advanced Reader's Copies of the book began making their way into the world. The ARC has been traveling around the country, paying reading visits to my fellow 2016 debut authors.

(Where in the heck is THE LAST FIFTH GRADE? Find out on this map.)

It's an odd feeling, knowing that the book (and child) you spent years preparing for this moment is finally *out there.* It's out there having experiences with people you've never met. They are forming opinions about something (someone) that's not you, but is a huge part of you.

I'm grateful for author friends
who have welcomed Ms. Hill's
fifth grade class into their homes.

There's always a comfortable
place to stay during a visit.

Sometimes the book gets to go
on field trips, like this one to Lake Erie.
And there are new friends to meet,
like Abby Cooper's Lou,
and his pal Squishy Giraffe.
I am amazed at the parallels between a child leaving home and a published book. As a parent/author, you've reached the point where you've poured every skill, lecture, ounce of wisdom, and experience that you can into your baby. He's had teachers, mentors, coaches, and relatives to support his growth. Now he has to put everything he's learned and experienced to use and make the best of it.

Thanks to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater for sharing this poem with me when I was feeling anxious about packing our son up this week. Sharon Olds' observations speak to me, both as a mom who is launching a child, and as an author getting ready to launch a book.


The Summer-Camp Bus Pulls Away from the Curb
by Sharon Olds
Whatever he needs, he has or doesn't
have by now.
Whatever the world is going to do to him
it has started to do. With a pencil and two
Hardy Boys and a peanut butter sandwich and
grapes he is on his way, there is nothing
more we can do for him. Whatever is
stored in his heart, he can use, now.
Whatever he has laid up in his mind
he can call on. What he does not have
he can lack. The bus gets smaller and smaller, as one
folds a flag at the end of a ceremony,
onto itself, and onto itself, until
only a heavy wedge remains.
Whatever his exuberant soul
can do for him, it is doing right now...
Read the rest at The Writer's Almanac.
My dear friend Heidi Mordhorst is hosting Poetry Friday this week. Get out your fresh fruit and your juicer and join her for a cup full of delicious poetry at My Juicy Little Universe.

Thanks to the Sweet Sixteens debut author group for the photos! You guys are the best. Let's just hope my son is as good about sending pictures home as you are (ha).

16 comments:

Tabatha said...

Love your comparison between launching a book and a child :-) That poem knocks my socks off. I'm saving it for when Dash leaves next year...

Diane Mayr said...

Hang in there! With text and cameras in phone, you can send a little whiny text and instantaneously get a photo in return. It doesn't require a lot of effort on the students' part. They can text with their eyes closed.

Sally Murphy said...

Love the poem, and love the parallels between sending your boy out into the big wide world, and sending the book out. Both will be fine,a nd will keep rewarding you for years to come, each in their own way.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater said...

I am so glad you liked the poem, Laura. Sharon Olds just creeps into one's soul, and I can't believe that in a couple of years, I'll be packing this old van for our eldest. (Wasn't I just in college? Didn't Mark and I just meet?) Your comparison could not be more perfect. Wow. Enjoy watching them both travel - bittersweet but so exciting! xo

Tara Smith said...

Love that poem, it's one I had turned to myself, when each of our three left home for college. It's the beginning of a whole new phase for the family - a rich one, Laura, but bittersweet nonetheless. Cannot wait to read your book - how exciting!

laurasalas said...

That poem is amazing, and I feel your bittersweetness, as our youngest is heading back to Scotland for 2-3 years in just a couple of weeks. And...excited about your book. Just added it to my tbr list. Is the pub date really not until next April?

Heidi Mordhorst said...

The birth of a book and the birth of a baby are so very like--it would be strange for an author/parent not to notice! (See my similar posts here and here:
http://myjuicylittleuniverse.blogspot.com/2008/11/birth-pangs.html
http://myjuicylittleuniverse.blogspot.com/2009/07/best-ultrasound-ever.html

But it's true you have an extra dose of coincidentality working on you. Sharon's poem is lovely, and there's an echo of it that also might apply--rock n roll poetry that I'll send you separately.

Doraine Bennett said...

A beautiful, powerful poem. It's a good feeling to know he is well. And so exciting to see your book traveling around. I look forward to reading.

Carol Varsalona said...

"Everything that's been placed in him will come out..." What a beautiful line, Laura. It represents years of growing and the ownership of life that you son takes with him as he unpacks. It also represents everything that you have put into your own growing of a book and what you are sending out into the world for all of us. I look forward to reading your book. How does one request an arc to review?

Also, Laura, can you help with a blogger issue. I do not know how to allow respondents the ability to write a comment on my blog. Heidi asked me and I thought I had made my blog public for everyone to comment on.

Carol Varsalona said...

"Everything that's been placed in him will come out..." What a beautiful line, Laura. It represents years of growing and the ownership of life that you son takes with him as he unpacks. It also represents everything that you have put into your own growing of a book and what you are sending out into the world for all of us. I look forward to reading your book. How does one request an arc to review?

Also, Laura, can you help with a blogger issue? I do not know how to allow respondents the ability to write a comment on my blog who do not have a gmail address. Heidi asked me and I thought I had made my blog public for everyone to comment on.

Joy said...

Congratulations on your new baby. Do writers get to be empty nesters? Christmas will be here before you know it.

Mary Lee said...

Perfect poem. I think it is one I'd like to share with the parents of my 5th graders!

Author Amok said...

Thanks for all of your encouragement, everyone. I'm heading out to see Robbie today, taking the rest of his stuff. We are not quite empty nesters. Younger sib has a few more years at home, but will miss big brother terribly. They are very close. We'll all adjust together. Carol -- I'll send you a private message.

Carol said...

Phew! What a big week in your life. Congratulations on the launch of your book and your son. Sharon Olds captures that leaving feeling perfectly-- Even though you know you have done everything you can and they are as ready as they can be, it's so hard to watch them leave. And I will never forget being at a car wash after dropping off my older son and saying to my younger one, about his brother and best friend, "I can't imagine how much you miss him," and watching a single tear roll down his cheek. Take good care!

Bridget Magee said...

Congrats on your son's new adventure and your book's debut! Wow! I, too, sent my oldest off to college last week. Bittersweet to put it mildly. =)

Margaret Simon said...

I love the pictures of you and your son on FB. Such love. You know he has what he needs. Your book has what it needs, too. I understand your anxiousness. Relax. They are both going to do well flying because you have given them roots.