Over the weekend I went for a run and as I came around a corner I saw a doe and what I assumed at first glance was a giant chipmunk.
(My confusion could be attributed to the fact I am running at such a fast clip that things along the side of the trail appear in a blur. Although the fact that a tick was able to attach itself to my ankle while I was running tells a different story about my pace.)
I quickly realized that the “giant chipmunk” was actually the tiniest little fawn I’ve ever seen. It was so small it could be mistaken for a high-quality stuffed animal.
Being shamefully ignorant in the defense mechanisms of the Cervidae family, I baby-voiced the doe in an irrational attempt to reassure her. “Don’t worry, I’ll just run by and leave you alone.”
But nature, unsurprisingly, triumphed over nurture; the deer bolted, and the fawn, lurching along like a miniature wind-up toy, couldn’t keep up. Nature asserted itself once again and, following some ancient genetic evolutionary instinct, the fawn flattened himself on the side of the trail, limbs folded at its side, lying perfectly still until I passed. I assume mother and baby reconnected once the coast was clear, with the fawn now in possession of one more life experience bolstering it in the fast-track to independence.
The deer encounter reminded me of the human track to independence, which is longer than that of a deer, but which is documented in a video to be released later this week: the annual senior class slide show.
If you haven’t seen the slide show, you should, because it’s pretty sweet. It’s also nearly impossible to watch in its entirety in one sitting, unless you don’t mind sobbing your eyes out and viewing the second half of the show through a blurry scrim of tears. To each his own.
The slide show format is formulaic: nostalgic yet uplifting background music, three photos of each graduating senior: as a baby, as a youngster, and as a senior. But you know why formulas exist? Because they’re successfully replicable and oh boy, is this slide show formula ever a winning one.
Perhaps the formula fails in places with bigger graduating classes, when either the length of the slide show or the degree of separation between audience and senior is too great. But here in the Methow Valley, you probably know some of the kids, or you might know their parents. Or the kids have loaded up your chicken scratch at the feed store, or bagged your groceries, or cooked your pizza. You might have seen them in a play or read about them in the newspaper. Or you contributed to one of the many nonprofit organizations the school district partners with to enhance students’ education.
To parents, the senior class slide show seems like an only moderately accelerated recap of their children’s and classmates’ lives. Blink — they’re in pre-school. Blink — they’re driving. Blink — they’re headed off to figure out what their lives independent from you look like. And although you don’t really want it to be any other way, you just wish everything would slow down — rewind the slide show, play it again, but at reduced speed, linger longer on each fleeting phase, give you just one more moment with the little fledglings who you are now launching from the nest.