As parents of young children, we were often reminded not to blink, reassured that while the days were long, the years were short. In the midst of sleepless nights, incessant changing of diapers, and tantruming toddlers, this advice fell on largely deaf ears. But now that our kids are older, well, we blinked.
English faculty member John Bouton opened Fall Family Weekend assembly with a reading of Robert Frost’s, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. While Frost’s autumnal references resonated as we enjoyed perfect fall weather before an impending winter, the deeper associations of the fleeting nature of youth hit our hearts a little harder.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Perfect weather (and we are not exaggerating) framed a weekend filled with much-needed connection for our parents and families: to this school, to their children, to our faculty and staff, to each other. Days with bright blue skies, temperatures in the low-70s, no bugs, and a light breeze only happen so often in New England. Like peak foliage, adolescence comes and goes before we know it. Our challenge is to grant ourselves permission to just stop, close our eyes and let the warm October sun warm us as we enjoy these golden moments.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented us from welcoming families to campus for Fall Family Weekend for almost two years. While we knew there was a parent-sized-hole in our community since March of 2020, we had no idea just how massive that chasm truly was. As families arrived on campus starting Thursday afternoon before a full Friday of classes, assembly, parent-teacher conferences, and athletic competitions, we began to refill the emotional void we didn’t know we had.
Family Weekends always contain their share of challenging conversations with some parents and students - we have written frequently about the messy, yet beautiful, non-linear journey of adolescents through Proctor - but undergirding those conversions is an emerging trust among parents, students, and teachers. This time in our students’ lives is precious, more precious than gold, and what better way to spend it than in relationship with others who care deeply about partnering in their growth.