I’m packing up my classroom. Not your typical shove it into every nook and cranny available and sort through it later kind of packing up. But really packing. And sorting, And remembering.
Clearing out my library, the room fills with the voices of thirteen years worth of students that have devoured those books. It’s a wonderful sound. Carletta and her voracious appetite for learning, Jason and his obsession with the Titanic, Clark and his love of all things odd giving me a love of all things odd along the way, Chris and Sean and the nonstop Goosebumps crusade, Shaylynn riding through every animal book I had, Lily and her Edgar Allen Poe phase, Masson and his need to hold on to as many books as possible – just in case, Marilyn and how I loved to listen to her expression when she read, Gina who loved to share facts from her books, Kent, Allison, Jamari, Samantha, Kevin, Sara, Emily, Rachel, Quinn, Luke…the names and learning that took place with those books could go on and on. Learning on their part and learning on mine.
It’s what I will miss most. That reciprocal learning that takes place between a teacher and her students. How a group of kiddos enter through your door and become your kids.
Some faces faded by time, some as clear as if I taught them today. With each subsequent class telling the same, but somehow new, stories. Thirteen years of students coming and going. Thirteen years of laughter, learning, mistakes, triumphs, and love. I’ve been so lucky to have had my kids.
I bought makeup yesterday. For my three-year old.
For her ballet recital. Blue eyeshadow, pink blush, and pink lipstick. Check, check, and check. I was thinking I must be the most insane mom ever to not really blink an eye at this purchase and then in the next thought realize that I must be completely nuts to allow my THREE YEAR OLD to wear makeup. Dance pictures or not.
As I watched my little girl happily skip down the aisle telling every stranger she saw about the loot in her hands, my heart yearned to tell her so many things. Things like:
- Keep skipping sweetie. No matter what life brings you or throws your way, skip and it just won’t seem that bad. I promise.
- You do not ever (never) need makeup to be beautiful. You are, and always will be, the most beautiful girl in the world.
- And one day if you’re the big sister, you need to make her feel the same.
- Remember that your mommy and daddy love you more than anything. Even when you make an oops. We love you for it more.
- You know how you “me do it”? Remember that asking for help does not make you weak…it builds you up.
- Remember how excited you are to see daddy when he comes home? How you leap into his arms and he squeezes you tight? Hold on to that feeling, even when you’re really mad at him because all he really wants to do is lock you in a tower and keep all the bad boys away from his princess.
- Stay exactly as you are now: with a beautiful and innocent view of the world. This world needs more people like you.
I often fear that I project the worst parts of me onto my little girl. I make her afraid. I make her timid. Her daddy makes her bossy (ha!) But watching her skip down the aisle, happy as can be, watching her pose like a model at her ballet pictures, watching her pretend to swim on the couch today because our pool isn’t set up yet, feeling her kiss my forehead as I lay on the couch, bone tired, listening to her read her books to her animals in bed, I realize that she is taking all the parts she gets from all of us and making them her own and that this world is already lucky to get to know her. She’s gonna take it by storm.
Some moments in our lives are simply meant to be. By chance? I like to believe not. I like to believe that by some higher design we are meant to be in a certain place at a certain time.
I remember moving out of my parent’s house in the midst of my father’s battle. I was guilt ridden, wanting to begin my new life and yet wanting to be there for my mom and dad and yet…not. I flew the coop and reveled in my new apartment with the love of my life. My dad labored up the three flights of stairs to help me light the pilot light on my new stove and to give his stamp of approval. Because damn it, he was going to do it. No matter what.
A few months went by and I traipsed home often to spend time with my parents. Feeling sometimes like I was intruding on the private struggle and the moments of a couple avoiding saying goodbye. We called it the bubble. Things in the bubble were great. The bubble was upbeat. No one was sick in the bubble. The bubble encompassed the house and then the hospital, and then the house, and then the hospital, and then the nursing home, where the bubble had the hardest time of all. The worst moments of my life will always be watching the strongest man I ever knew fade into the background where he didn’t belong. We decided that the bubble must come home for its final stay.
I was running in a race by my parent’s house and decided that my lazy self did not want to get up extra early to meet my fellow runners. So I stayed at my moms. It was a fleeting decision. A decision that I didn’t give much thought. I almost stayed in my new apartment. But I didn’t. I went home. At 2:30 in the morning, the phone rang. One of those rings that you just know in your gut does not carry news your heart wants to hear. Somehow, someway, I was exactly where my mom needed me to be. Where I needed me to be.
Indeed. The bubble had burst.