Grand Forks mother sees last of 6 children graduateAfter nearly a quarter century of having children in school May 26 marked the end of an era for Cindy Peterson.
After nearly a quarter century of having children in school May 26 marked the end of an era for Cindy Peterson.
On Sunday, Cindy’s sixth child, Brenna, will graduate from Grand Forks Central High School. Come fall, it will be the first time since 1989 — when Cindy’s oldest child, Matthew, now 29, started kindergarten — that Cindy’s life will not revolve, at least in part, around school activities.
From cross country meets to cello concerts, Cindy enjoyed attending school and extra-curricular functions of Brenna, Matthew and their siblings, Kirsten, 27, Michael, 25, Megan 23, and Kelsey, 19.
In those days, when Cindy had six children in three different schools, she had to use color-coded markers to keep track of all of their activities. Even then, there were occasional mix-ups.
Like the time elementary school was in session, but the kindergarten, which was on an every-other-day schedule was not.
“Those were crazy times. I once sent Brenna to kindergarten when there wasn’t any,” Cindy said.
These days, her youngest daughter’s schedule revolves around music and academics. Brenna takes voice and cello lessons, participates in band and choir, plays in an orchestra and youth symphony and teaches cello.
Brenna started taking cello lessons when she was 6 because her older sister played the instrument.
“I wanted to be my sister, Kirsten, when I was little,” she said. “She was 9, and I wanted to be like her.”
Cello proved to be a good choice for Brenna because she is an accomplished musician who has had dozens of recitals during the past 11 years. Her senior recital was is Friday at University Lutheran Church.
Besides her musical activities, Brenna has a full academic workload this year that includes several advanced placement classes. Because of this, she opted out of some of the sports she participated in an as underclassman.
“I wanted to finish strong,” Brenna said. “As you get older, you have to pick and choose what you want to do. School took priority.”
Making her mark
Brenna has enjoyed school, but is looking forward to attending St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., this fall and broadening her horizons.
“I’m kind of an old soul. I’m into so many things, and when I’m in high school and have to take so many classes, you don’t get to take the classes you want,” Brenna said.
As the youngest of six, Brenna also is eager to create her own identity. While she loves being part of a big family and having lots of older siblings, she wants to make her own mark.
“One of the challenges is trying to find something they’ve haven’t done. It got to be kind of a game finding something new and different,” she said.
For example, she learned to ride the unicycle because none of her brothers and sisters had done that, she said, with a laugh.
Brenna also planned a graduation party menu that is unique to her.
Instead of having the typical taco in a bag or pulled-pork sandwich, she chose an international theme.
“I’m really into international travel and other cultures,” she said. The menu includes krumkake, éclairs, Swedish meatballs and bruschetta.
Cindy, a veteran of hosting graduation receptions, was not stressed out about the preparation like she was with her oldest children.
“With the first ones, you’re so worried about the house and worrying about how everything looks. The first, I tore out the carpeting, was doing painting.” She said. For the second, she said she remodeled the basement.
Since then, her priorities have changed.
“I’ve just realized, it’s not about the house,” Cindy said.
‘Your last one’
“People always say ‘It’s your last one,’” expecting her to be sad, Cindy said.
But she doesn’t have that reaction, she said. “Instead of being sad, it’s brought up a lot of good memories.
“There’s not really a stage that I haven’t enjoyed. I love 9-year-olds and I love 3-year-olds. There hasn’t really been a time I haven’t enjoyed.
“I’m never sad at graduations. I think it’s really fun. When they’re ready to move on, I’m happy for them.”
Cindy knows she will miss Brenna but is looking forward to corresponding with her — the old-fashioned way.
Though Brenna keeps in touch with friends and family by email if she wants to reach several of them at one time, she prefers sending them hand-written letters.
“I think people forget how fun it is to get a letter. It’s more personal,” Brenna said.
“I can’t wait because she writes the best letters.” Cindy said.
Reach Bailey at annb08.net or (218) 779-8093.