‘Congratulations! Welcome to the fourth grade!” I shake this long haired boy’s hand and then bend forward and take him into my arms, having carefully placed a beautiful flower coronet on his head. “I can’t wait to meet you again, on numerous happy occasions.” I continue in a low voice, close to his ear. “I love you!” I tell him grabbing his shoulders and looking him straight in the eye.
“I love you too…” he whispers, throwing his arms around me again and squeezing me hard.
This is a child I was advised to give up on back when I took the class two years ago.
“If I were you”, the school mentor told me in a one to one discussion, “I’d take the class on condition that he leaves. You can’t handle him. I wouldn’t keep him either, and I am so much more experienced than you are.”
I disregarded the advice and took the class the way it was. He was not the most challenging child.
My greatest accomplishment as a class teacher is not what I have managed to teach my kids in these two years we’ve spent together. Not even being able to ‘handle’ them. I have loved all of them – this is my greatest accomplishment. And I have been loved by all of them. I have made a significant difference. In their lives and in the world. I will never be forgotten. And they will always be a part of me. They have helped shape who I am today perhaps as much as I have helped shape who they are now.
Going home in my new life, I’m looking at my reflection in the dark window as the noisy train is rushing along cold and damp tunnels. The lavender in the flower coronet next to my three owls on a branch present in the paper bag I’m holding offers such a refreshing feeling.
“Would you like to sit?” I hear a voice and follow the line from the fingertips tapping my arm to the smiling face of this stout young woman, offering me her seat on the subway.
“Oh, thank you!” I reply smiling back. “It’s ok, I’m getting off at the next stop.”
I’ve really started showing.