Friday, July 31, 2015

Firsts and Lasts

First moments, last moments. I have been thinking about them lately. I don’t know where I read about this, but there was an article about parenting where it recommended that you slow down and experience life as you live it. That you didn’t know the last time your child would crawl before walking, the last time they would need a diaper changed, etc. And I think that is so true. We are excited and celebrate “firsts”, but fail to celebrate “lasts” because you don’t realize it is the last time until later, upon reflection.

I’m a pretty emotional and nostalgic person, as well as ridiculously reflective, so I probably think about this more than I should. Even as a teacher, I get super emotional at the end of the year – it’s the last time I will begin a chapter book read aloud, the last writing unit, the last time I will confer with this child. And it isn’t that I don’t celebrate the day as it happens, or that I don’t find joy, I also feel the time slipping away and hope, and pray, that I’ve taught these fifth graders everything I can. Everything they need before moving on to sixth grade.

A friend recently asked me if I had ever had a “bad” class. They had heard about my son’s class and their reputation and asked what I thought. I was honest and said I loved them. He laughed and said, “You say that about them all. How can that be true?” And I paused and considered that comment. I truly did love them. Classes might be tough, some students might be hard, but those moments during the year together? The firsts, the lasts? The community we create? They make it all worth it.

Last night I came upon the bathroom tub. Guys were lined up on the side, dripping wet from Liam’s bath. I smiled, so happy that his imagination still ran wild. Wondering if teachers who don’t have children, or don’t have children that are ten, realize that fifth graders – while trying to act like “big kids” still are little kids underneath. Then I paused, how many more baths until he was too old for guys? How many more times when he was just a little boy? Some tears slipped out.

A family member recently asked me why I gave up so much of my night to my boys. If they ask me to lay with them until they sleep, I will. If they want me to read with them, I will. If they just want me to sit in my own room, reading, while they try to sleep because they don’t want to be on the top floor alone, I will. I tried to explain that it was a simple decision, there is nothing better that I could be doing with my time. Someday all too soon, they won’t ask. They won’t even be living in this house. So, as long as they want me near, I will.

As a new school year looms ahead of me, just twenty days away, I’m excited to begin on another journey with a wonderful group of kids. I know the year will begin with firsts that I will look forward to, and lasts that will make me emotional, especially upon reflection. I also know that I will look at my students – the ones that are easy to love and the ones that drive me mad – and know that these kids are absolutely precious to someone, somewhere. That someone treasures every first and last moment with these kids. That even though they appear to be “big kids”, they are still little underneath. That these kids are the whole world to their parents and I need to treasure every moment I get to spend with them. All too soon it will be May, I will be finishing our last read aloud, and tears will be slipping down my face. Firsts and lasts, the moments that make up our lives. They go by all too quickly.  

Heading into 5th and 7th, on their way to football. Time needs to slow down.