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The Gift of ‘Moving On’ Moments in Life

A son’s elementary school celebration is a reminder to embrace the full range of feelings that accompany any transition.

Boy celebrating accomplishments

My son “graduated” from elementary school this week. I put the word in quotations because as a rising 6th grader, he wasn’t receiving a degree—and because the school used a different term to describe the milestone. On reflection, the school’s term feels even more meaningful than the traditional name of the end of one stage of a person’s education: they called it Moving On.

Ben at his Moving On celebration.
  Ben at his Moving On Ceremony.

At the Moving On Ceremony, each member of the 5th grade class shared one sentence of reflection on what they were grateful for or would miss about their elementary years. One student’s words caught my particular attention—he said he was thankful for what he called “a step on the ladder.”

I was really struck by this 11-year-old’s ability to summarize the emotional heart of the “moving on” moment. Truly, the achievement of an elementary school education is nothing more than a recognition of the wondrous fact of exponential growth, the astonishing difference between a 5-year-old kindergartener who is barely out of toddlerhood, and an almost-teenaged “big kid” who has begun to learn, during those years, to read and write and add and divide….and befriend and inquire and explore and understand.

Growing up is the work of a lifetime—a ladder that has no top. And the gift of a “moving on” moment is that we get to celebrate the firm foothold we’ve gained on our current step, even as we stretch and reach upward toward the next.

We get to move forward—not beyond what we’ve learned and accomplished so far, but because we are able to build on today’s experiences to lean ahead toward tomorrow.

We hope and look forward to our son experiencing more graduations in his lifetime. But perhaps more than that, we pray that he will have the ability to recognize many, many “moving on” moments, moments to celebrate and savor with a gratitude that is as cumulative over the years as the learning that takes place in any classroom. 

What does the term “moving on” mean to you?

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