In our school, many of the classrooms have adjoining doors. My room has a door to the hallway, and a door that leads me into the second grade classroom beside me. The teacher in that classroom is a friend who I met when she was still in graduate school, training to join us in the ranks of educators. While that first meeting feels like only weeks ago to me, in reality a lot of years have gone by, and my friend is now a loving mother of three.
When our school day ends, a group of young kids, children of teachers in our building, often gather in the room next door to me. They have the run of the classroom, and to some extent of the third floor, and they get the most out of the experience every day. They watch movies, color, play with blocks or leggos, play ball in the hallway. I don’t know any of these kids very well; they are all much younger than my fifth grade students, and only know me as another familiar face in the building.
But I watch them, and I hear their laughter. It always makes me smile when those laughing, joyous voices ring out. I love to see the pleasure that they take in each others’ company. They are full of bubbling humor, boundless energy, an unquenchable sense of fun. They are the very definition of joyful childhood.
This afternoon I heard them through the door, and the energy and fun were almost palpable. Of course, I understand that I am not the Mommy in this situation. I wasn’t the one trying to make copies, plan lessons, correct math assessments while watching the kids careen around my classroom. I was only the one who got to sit in my silent space, listening to the sounds rise and fall, feeling the vibrations of running feet, remembering other happy voices from another time.
My task was easy. I copied, I planned, I corrected. But the whole time, my ears were trained on the door, my head was tilted toward the laughter, my memories were of the past.
I am home now, in my clean and quiet house. The dogs are fed, dinner is in the oven, the rain is falling. In my head, I still listen to those sweet voices calling and laughing, filling the silence around me.