It's the end of an era for Jay Leno. Seventeen years ago, Jay succeeded Johnny Carson as the host of The Tonight Show. Now the baton will be handed to Conan O'Brien, and Jay will move to prime time. As I watched The Tonight Show earlier this week and listened to Lyle Lovett sing "Closing Time", a certain sadness came over me. Not a tear-your-heart-out sadness. Not an all-hope-is-gone kind of sadness. I guess I would describe it as a little bit of melancholy tinged with sentiment. Almost the same feeling I get at the end of the school year when the bulletin boards are dismantled and the last child gets on the bus, waving out that little rectangular bus window.
Now don't get me wrong. When I was a classroom teacher, I was filled with joy at the prospect of endless summer days, not wearing a watch, and visiting the bathroom whenever I wanted to! And even now, in my work as a support for classroom teachers, I look forward to family vacations and late nights around the fire pit.
But for me, there is still something sad about the end of the school year. Maybe it's the wish that I had been more patient with that child who constantly tugged on my shirttail. Or with that colleague who always talked too long or complained too much. Or perhaps in my reflection about the year I tend to magnify my mistakes and minimize my triumphs.
Do you feel the same? Is the end of the school year bittersweet for you, too? If so, I think we're among the lucky ones. Our sentimentality tells us a lot. It means we are reflective. It means we want better for ourselves and for our students. It means we still care, after all these years.
So here's to you at closing time. Stack up those chairs and say your goodbyes. By the time Independence Day rolls around, you'll be full of plans and dreams for next year. And so will I.