The Boy and I stopped at Starbucks this morning on the way to school. Normally, we celebrate the last Friday of every month by going to Starbucks…but between snow in February and lack of time in March, it got pushed to today. While there, the Boy and I ran into his future English teacher (one of the nicest people I have ever met) who was incredibly lovely and kind and gracious to the Boy. She was reassuring about his concerns but, most of all, she was just nice to him. No pretensions. No fake kindness because the parent/colleague was standing right there. True sincerity.
This lovely woman congratulated me, again, on my award which started the effervescent joy which just doesn’t seem to want to stop happening. And I hugged her at least twice and thanked her a million times. And then the Boy and I left because we really did need to get to school and I was worried about being late because I had students who were bringing last minute work to me.
So, as the Boy and I are leaving, we started talking about the award and what this meant to me and how this was going to affect the family. Then, he finally admitted to what I was thinking…
“Oh God, what if God is just making you happy right now because something really bad is on its way.”
Yup, Boy. I completely agree.
But, whatever maelstrom that might be brewing somewhere in my future destiny…well, it just stayed there because today was magical. It was Harry Potter magical and wonderful because Voldemort did not bother me today and I stayed within the realm of my beautiful five foot four and a half inch chubby measuring stick. I walked in my own shadow.
I lived my life.
Today has been constant praise and lovely words and hugs. Between class, three of my students RAN to my classroom, one of whom grabbed me and spun me in a hug so hard I thought I was going to be lifted off my feet. One teacher stopped by my classroom at the end of the day and just stood in the door and gave me a thumbs up.
I don’t deserve this. I am no better than anyone else who stood in front of the stage yesterday. I am certainly no more deserving than so many of my colleagues who were sitting in the audience yesterday and then rose to their feet to congratulate me.
One woman in particular…screw it…Rhonda. Rhonda is everything I aspire to be and then even more. She is brilliant, courageous, confident, beautiful, strong. She is dedicated and compassionate and kind and witty and funny. With a twist of her words she can humble the most erudite scholar and then raise up the most humble fool. She consumes…not reads…consumes books, and I don’t mean silly pulp fiction books. If you want a good book recommendation, contact Rhonda.
She is an advocate for her students and their needs. She is the first to find the battle ground where her students need her and will stand there, holding the standard, and wear the target sign on her chest. She arrives at work, daily, before contract hours. She leaves, daily, well into the evening.
She is the sponsor of National Honor Society in addition to coaching the girls’ field hockey team and the Battle of the Brains students.
She gives. Constantly.
And she has told me, so many times, why I deserve this award. No, Rhonda. You do. But I am thankful of your words. Because I see you as a fantastic teacher who gives constantly and tirelessly. Or, maybe you’re exhausted but the cups of coffee keep you going on a daily basis.
Maybe I need to drink more coffee.
No…I don’t need that much of a sugar rush.
Today has been characterized by people not thinking of themselves but thinking of others. I just happen to be the one sitting in the spotlight and still not certain how it started to shine upon me. Don’t get me wrong. I am LOVING this. But I still look around the school, at the penny portrait a teacher is having her photography students make to create awareness of childhood leukemia.
Or at the artwork from students from other teachers that make the school look like an art gallery and not an educational institution.
Or the students bent over their computers as they work on the literary magazine…
Or the students who fill brown paper bags with lunches for needy students who have no money and just a few strands of dignity…
I am a voice in this sea of compassion and goodness. And I swear that I will never stop proclaiming the sheer good that I see, daily.
Do I become frustrated? Yes.
Have I thought about retiring/leaving the profession/quitting? Yes. Every year.
Am I sometimes over-whelmed by the politics that dissolve a beautiful profession into nit-pickiness of who can do the most paperwork in the most aesthetically pleasing manner? Hell yes. I hate paperwork because I usually forget to do it.
But, in the end, I can’t stop coming back. I can’t ignore the magnetic pull that grabs me each morning and propels me into the car and down seven or so miles until I am in a crowded parking lot. The intercom dings and an announcement is made…someone is paged to go somewhere. I go into the building, check my mailbox, feel relieved that I don’t have anything in there that requires my attention because it is seven oh my God it’s early in the morning o’clock.
Finally, I walk past the penny portrait and the smiling art teachers and up the stairs where I see the history teachers and past the corner where my dear friend who told me to stand next to myself is sitting in front of her computer, her hands curled with arthritis but she never complains because curled hands don’t stop her from giving high-fives or hugs.
And then, there, at the end of the hall but just before the locker bank. There’s my room…my second home. Open the door and I see my pictures of the Boy and the Girl and the students who have given me pictures over the years.
Put down my “teacher bag.” Turn on the computer. Greet the students.
Let’s start playing.