Saturday, June 7, 2014

While They're Still Mine

The other day at school, I commented on my cracking, fading voice.  I said, “I’ve been having to apologize to people on the weekends for my voice. I have to explain that my kids are so rowdy at the end of the year I’ve been having to raise my voice too much!”  One of my students said, “I didn’t think you had kids?” 

“I’m talking about you guys!” I replied, “ You ARE my kids.” A couple of the kids said, “Duh!” and a few smiled or giggled. But, to me, the truth of that statement hung in the air.  I usually try to avoid using the term “my kids” in the interest of NOT sounding like a crazy lady who doesn’t have her own kids and therefore claims other people’s as her own.  But there’s no denying there’s some truth to that phrase.

There’s nothing else quite like the bittersweet feeling at the end a school year.  Of course, I love summer; I am a teacher.  If not for summer, I’m not sure any of us would take this job on.  But then there’s the other thing, besides summer, that keeps us coming back for more: those kids.  And whether it’s been a smooth year or a more challenging one, it’s never easy letting them go.  There’s always one more thing you wish you had done or said, one more moment you wish you could’ve shared. 

Every class has a personality of its own.  Knowing that never again will that same group of people be together, like that, in our own little world, always leaves me with a unique sense of loss.  Sure, I’ll see them again.  It’s a small town, after all.  But they’ll be taller, wiser, so grown up…so fast.  They’ll shyly glance my way in public, wondering whether or not I remember them, trying to get up the nerve to say hello.  Never again will they bound through the door of my classroom morning after morning, smiling and racing over to my desk to tell me a story before they even bother to take off their book bag. 

So for five more days, while they’re still “mine,” I want to savor each moment.  And I want to make sure they know they ARE “mine,” and they always will be, no matter where life takes them.  They’ve taken up space in a little corner of my heart and changed me, from the inside out, and I can only pray that I’ve done the same for them.  The end of that 180th day doesn’t change that.  It becomes a part of who we are; we become a part of each other.  For always…

The next time someone says to me, “I didn’t think you had kids?” I think for once I’ll just smile, and tell them the truth.  Oh, I have kids all right… more than I can count.  Maybe not in the way that you mean, but in a way that means the world to me. 

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