Rats?

It’s hard to believe I’m the dad of an (almost) fourth grader.

And a little rhyme A. came up with made me realize that yes, this is probably the last of the little-kid grades for him:

First grade, babies

Second grade, cats

Third grade, angels

Fourth grade, rats!

I’ve got strong memories of fourth grade at Clifford Elementary School in Redwood City, and my great and wise teacher, Mrs. Madigan, who told me not to get married until I was at least 30. As it turned out, that’s what I did.

She was the kind of teacher who was nuts for tennis (it was the 70s), drove a station wagon with cool fake wooden paneling on the side and took the whole class to visit Stanford on a field trip.

Fourth grade felt like the last kiddie grade for me. After that, we moved to Oakdale, and things just felt different. It wasn’t until high school, when I had the erudite and compassionate Mr. Conrotto for English, that I had a teacher quite as good.

A. insists he’s already moving on to the big-kid grades, mainly because the fourth-graders go to class in a different wing than kindergarten through third grades.

In the past year, he seems to have grown at least four inches, and seeing him with his friends, I can almost imagine him as a middle-schooler. It’s a little scary how fast time passes, and in a couple years it will be little C.’s turn to enter kindergarten.

C. has already told me she wants a Hello Kitty rock guitar for her fourth birthday. She’s growing up so quickly I can almost see changes by the day.

But for now we’re just enjoying the summer, and playing outside in the warm evenings. When I’m not exhausted and getting after them to pick up their toys, I try to soak in these fleeting moments.

I watch them wrestle and fight one moment, and see them giving one another a hug the next. They won’t be little forever.

Rats!

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