This week I spent a lot of time getting ready for the ceremony. Thinking of awards for everyone took some time and then there was the end of year movie. It was fun but it drove my inner perfectionist nuts! After more hours than I would like to admit, it let it go. There was also room decoration which meant the obligatory talk about how to act during the ceremony. We also had to have a talk about how Ms. LaMore was going to be wearing a dress for the first time this school year and it wasn't going to be a reason to freak out. This discussion was based on the glasses incident in January when I lost a whole day of teaching to kids staring at me instead of doing any work at all. So after a week of prep, we were ready to celebrate!
Friday morning came and I was ready. We got in and settled. We reviewed how things were going to go, what good behavior looked like, and how to show appreciation for each other appropriately. That was the last thing that went as planned.
First, I opened the classroom door and let the parents in. Apparently I should have sent a note to the parents that I would be wearing a dress because they freaked out more than the kids did. One dad went so far as to look me up and down, repeatedly smile and wink, and to tell me in a low voice (and much too close to me) that I should wear dresses more often - with his wife right beside him. A.W.K.W.A.R.D. It also confirmed why I don't wear dresses to work.
We finally get everyone inside and seated. The kids were super excited about seeing their folks. Seriously, they reacted like they hadn't seen them in a week. Once they settled back down, I started to do the welcome. About half way through, one of my girls gets up, collects her three best friends, and goes to the back of the room to get a picture from her mother who whips out the camera and starts shooting away. Seriously!?
We get them seated and start the awards. Just as I was about to start the second award, a huge cockroach decides to join us in the middle of the floor. Oh the joys of working in an old school. All of the kids start yelling and crawling over each other to get away or get a better look. I'll let you decide which were the girls and which were the boys. Overly Attentive Dad steps in to be heroic and take care of the bug.
Once we get them settled down, we got going again. We got to one of my students who has a disablilty. I was talking about what a joy he is to our class and how he makes us all laugh. At this point, one of his peers in the back decided to give an example of something funny that he does and starts to imitate one of his stems - right in front of the child's parents. I wanted to melt into the floor.
Once I got him to stop, we were able to go through the rest of the ceremony relatively easily. We all cried during the video (even though I knew what was coming) and had snacks. While the kids ate cookies and juice, there was lots of picture taking and visiting.
At one point, I noticed a couple of girls crying. I went over to check on them and my heart broke. They were sobbing because they don't want to go to second grade. Why? Because they don't want to leave me. In my eight years of teaching, this has never happened to me. What made it so hard was that I love these girls - L.O.V.E. them! I usually don't do this but I pulled them on my lap and we just sat together. I let the parents entertain their kids but we just sat and cried together. I reassured them I would still see them next year and that we still have all of next week together. One went to her mom and was OK. The other was inconsolable. I finally was able to distract her but as the day went on, I would catch her crying over and over again. Lots of hugs and comforting words were shared.
As bad as this is going to sound, I kinda needed that. To say that this year was not an easy one would be an understatement. I loved the kids but the politics of teaching really got to me. And thanks to the great state of Texas, next year isn't looking any better. I needed a reminder of why I do this job. I needed a reminder of why I come back year after year. I got it - in two pair of tear filled eyes with arms that wrapped around my waist, not wanting to let go. I got in in a smile that snuck out when I told one how proud of her I am for her reading and speaking up. I got it in a hand that held on like I was her last bit of hope. It wasn't what I expected when I started the day but it is what I got.
And I'm thankful.....