In Love

On the second day of school, I posted this on Facebook:

Two days down. Every year, I spend the first couple of weeks of school making my peace with letting go of last year’s kids and making room in my heart for these. My heart says, “You all seem nice, but I want MY class back.” But a few of them have already managed to win me over, and it won’t be long before they feel like MY class.

And I was right…it doesn’t take long at all.  I have fallen head over heels in love with each and every one of them.  This boy who is reading at a third grade level and researching the Lewis and Clark expeditions with the TAG teacher, and this boy who doesn’t know what sound an S makes.  This girl who bites her toenails while I teach (yes, toenails!) and this girl who wears more jewelry than I do each day.  The one who listened to another one explain his thinking about a number talk and reacted with a joyful and spontaneous, “Wow!  That is SO cool!”

The one who asks me at least ten times a day if she can go to the library today.  The one who absolutely cannot remember to raise his hand, but I don’t really care because when he interjects, it’s always about what I’m teaching and how awesome he thinks it is.  The one who made me cry because he was talking about his “baby” sister who died at just a few weeks old, who would have been older than him, and I knew this family the year that happened.

The one who wanted to know what “homeless” means.  The one who wanted to know what “gay” means.  The one who wanted to know what “relatives” are.  The one who was so surprised and excited to learn that this other one speaks Spanish, too.  All the ones who didn’t understand why Ruby Bridges’ classmates wouldn’t come to school with her.  How when I said it was because she was black and the other kids were white, they didn’t know there was a difference.  How I sort of wish I didn’t have to teach about Ruby Bridges because I love that they don’t see skin colors or hear language differences or notice ability differences.

The one who gave me the first hug of the year on day 3.  The one who thought it was hilarious the day I bought school lunch, and wondered what table I would sit at.  (Um, the teachers’ lounge.  Sorry, buddy.)  The one who said this other boy used to be mean in kindergarten, but he asked the boy to stop being mean, and now they are best friends.  The one who, every time he gets in trouble, comes up to me a half hour later and apologizes sincerely.  The one who asks me once a day, “Feel my head.  I think I’m sick.”  The one who asks me five times a day, “Miss B, I go faffoom?”  (Rhymes with “bathroom,” obviously.)

The ones who desperately ask, “But who will take care of us???” when I have to go to a meeting at 3:15 on Thursday afternoons.

I’m going to disappoint them and disillusion them and scare them.  I’ll have to break the news that Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Seuss are both dead.  I will have to convince them that every fire drill is just for practice.  I will have to convince them that the basement is really the safest place for a tornado, and the school won’t fall in on us.  And also that we’re just practicing and there is no storm today.  I’ll have to apologize for getting mad.  I’ll have to rebuild relationships when I was the one who damaged them.

They are so fresh and new, in a world that is so real, with grown-ups who are so imperfect.  They might be small and cute, but they are not helpless or naive.  They are strong and resilient, and I am so in love with this adventure of sharing a year of their lives.

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