Photo by Bryce Barker / Unsplash
By Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D.
During President Clinton’s inauguration in January 1997, singer Jessye Norman sang a little longer than expected, causing the then-president-elect to be sworn in at 12:06 p.m. instead of noon. Historians noted that because then-Vice President Al Gore had already been sworn in to his position, that Gore was actually President of the United States from 12 to 12:05 p.m. Gore said that under his presidency, “. . . the economy was strong, crime was low, and bi-partisan bickering was at an all-time low.”
It seems like such a small amount of time. How often have we texted someone, I’m running five minutes late. Whether or not that’s accurate is almost irrelevant. Or we’ve asked someone if they can stay an extra five minutes after an event. Which undoubtedly turns into ten or more.
Another perspective on this small amount of time comes from Scott McCreery, an American country singer who won the 2011 season of American Idol. His 2018 song, “Five More Minutes,” explores this very theme. As eight-year-olds fishing, a sixteen-year-old hoping for a goodnight kiss, and a senior in high school after playing his last football game, the lyrics tell us they all wanted five more minutes.
For me, though, the most poignant verse came near the end when an 86-year-old grandfather was near death, surrounded by family, “With so much left to say,” McCreery too wanted five more minutes. I never got a chance to say goodbye to my own grandfather, whom I wrote about last year, as he passed away in his sleep in 1983.
I have often contemplated the all-too-quick passing of time. Facebook has a way of doing this to me, as it reminds me of posts from years ago. It is, more often than not, the pictures of Our Children that impact me the most. Wasn’t it just five minutes ago that we brought Patrick home from the hospital in Chicago? He will turn 18 this year. It feels like only five minutes ago that Brendan was born, and we realized that we needed a slightly bigger home as a family of four. Brendan will be 16 in May and will be learning how to drive.
As an infant, Patrick, who came into the world almost three weeks early, was colicky and suffered from acid reflux. More than likely because his arrival was sooner than expected. It was a months-long process to identify that it was acid reflux, and those were long, tedious, stressful days (and nights). A dear friend at the time, who was a little further along in the parenting journey, told me something then that still rings true to me today: “The days are long, but the years are short.”
In our six East Greenwich Public Schools, we have more than 2,500 students, whose families are somewhere on their own parenting journey. Perhaps their children are in our pre-kindergarten program, just dipping their feet into our educational world. Maybe their children are second-semester seniors trying to figure out what the future holds. Or their children are on the verge of a transition within EGPS. From one of our two early elementary schools, preparing for their next one. Maybe their children are in Eldredge or Hanaford, wondering what life will be like at Cole. They may have an eighth-grader looking down Middle Road, thinking about that school on Avenger Drive.
We are all doing our best with what we have in front of us. We are trying to do right by our families and, hopefully, at a job we love, so it doesn’t feel like work. Our families are more important than anything else. How do I know this? Because if someone gave me five more minutes, I would spend it with them.
And so would you.
Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D., is the superintendent of East Greenwich Public Schools.