Those last days. The ones before you relax , heave a big sigh…then say, “now what (or who) to fix these next six weeks.” It’s a precarious time for a teacher; you yourself are wrapping up and sealing all you know about a little mind into a report card, a folder and a collection of memories. You are passing all these things along to families, specialists and new teachers and you hope to God you’re doing it justice.
If you are clinically insane,like myself, you also are on the good-getting recieving end. You are at countless concerts and ceremonies. You are bombarded with trinkets of your babies bearing their possible occupation or current favorite food. The hope is that you tuck it all away and compare and contrast for years to come. It’s hectic. I am fruitlessly trying to keep all those balls in a 360 degree formation without disturbing the system.
These aren’t on the must-do list. Your stuff won’t be repo’d if you fail or anything….but when you are a hoarder of mementos like myself …it is on the “if I don’t do this I’ll die” list.
And so it’s not work but it’s nuts and I love the rewards, be them big or small. Here some favorite end of year particulars that have me on a summer high:
1. Those first day to last day school pictures. This one is never going away for me. The way they grow and come together and fall apart is endearing in all it’s meaning or not. Judah wasn’t even able to steady his Sandlefeet in the fall and somehow Calvin’s baby locks turned into kid hair? There are no missing teeth or facial hair yet but there’s a year’s growth in their eye twinkle and the way they carry themselves. If only to the trained eye of a mommy or daddy
2. Teacher Gifts. This year Calvin chose a Venus flytrap for his darling of a teacher. As a teacher myself I half chuckled/ half cringed and obliged because it is “soo him” I dreaded the hustle to grab appropriate souvenirs thanking teachers for morphing my children into structured, well mannered, little learners. It seemed nothing would quite do and I’m pretty sure nothing could….But hugging all those first molders in my children’s lives invoked tears of gratitude . I’m sure they felt all my warm fuzzy neurons buzzing as I squeezed them one last time.
3. It is not all quite hearts and rainbows at the school where I teach…in the sense that there are not thoughtful gifts or tearful hugs there. It makes me sad sometimes but those brick walls hold other rewards, in the safe haven that you are for little lost ones and a knowing camaraderie with the ones you work with. So when I rolled up on the last day I had no expectations. In fact, I knew it would be the opposite from the tearful goodbye I had just left. So as I pulled in the parking lot it became everything to see a handful of teachers with camping chairs perched in the parking lot, smiling in the sun and soaking in every last second until we would meet the ones we tried to save for the very last time. We had made it. We survived the trenches and no lives had been lost. Sure some of us has embedded schrapnel but we mostly came through unscathed and we were once again smiling! There were no hot dogs or cold brews at the early morning makeshift tailgate but there was something better. There was triumph. We won the year together, we won the war and we may have even changed some lives in the process.
4. I’ve worked every single summer since I’ve been 15. I’ve flipped burgers and scooped ice cream. I’ve poured beers and taught about Egypt . I’ve taken countless orders at the fair while dodging bees and I’ve even sorted car parts in a hot service garage. I’ve nanny’d waitressed, educated, bartended, counseled, and made sure I completed your order. What I haven’t done is ME! So the thing that sailed my ship right into shore was the opportunity to keep my womb to myself, become the best version of me and do all the things that I’ve wanted to do. The dancing sugarplum dreams that swirled around my newly married brain 6 years ago….Before I was pregnant 4 times , before I dealt with a diagnosis, before I was laid off and frantically searching a job, before a home was just a first-star wish, before family stormed my bed at 6:30am, before all my dreams came true. They’re here. It’s all in front of me now. Now I get to do all the things I wanted to do with this crazy life and now I have the time to do it. Here’s the thing though….when you are living a dream you’ve dreamt for so long…where to start is a conundrum. I am spinning with home improvements, warm summer days and lingering late nights. My life has just begun damn it. There is not enough summer. My bucket list is created and I’m headed to my first vacation as I write this very sentence. I am in it. This will be my best summer ever. The buzz shows no sign of wearing off anytime soon.
There is something about the end of something that births a new beginning. It’s a chance for a redo or to do it better and adrenaline hits the gas pedal on caffeine. It’s intoxicating. It is the best high of all, the one I’ve had since I’ve been a kid. It’s that good old fashioned summer high.