As a teacher, I am constantly thinking about and channeling memories of my own children, grown though they may be. At least ten times every day, one of my students reminds me in some way of one of my kids, and I am swept back into my past.
And every time that I spend time now with my all-grown-up kids, I find myself thinking about my students.
My worlds often coexist inside my mind.
Today, though, I had the very great pleasure of having my two loves overlap.
It was kind of a long day, with a full morning of state tests taking up the largest part of the day. I had kids in tears, kids asking for the nurse, kids with strep who came because it was the big test day, and kids who blew their noses fifty times in an hour and then shoved all the soggy, packed tissues into a tupperware on their desks. It was a LONG morning.
After lunch, I read to everyone, and then gave them all cameras and iPods so they could take pictures for a book project that we are just about to begin.
With a half hour left in the day, I got a call from the school office.
“Karen, you have a visitor. Can I send him up?”
It was my son, Tim; my baby boy. I knew that he was coming from college today to meet my husband for a hockey tournament. I knew that there was a chance that he’d decide to meet his Dad at my school, in its central location. I knew that there was a chance he’d arrive before the end of the school day.
So all day today, as I corrected and filed and proctored and encouraged and monitored everyone, my mind kept rushing to the thought “Tim is coming!”
Its hard to describe the lifting, soaring emotion that goes with the thought of seeing and hugging one of my babies. It fills the whole mundane, prosaic day with a sense of magic and joy.
Its as if someone is lighting a candle in my heart.
So the office called, and my tired, stressed out students began to giggle and buzz and chatter. You see, they hear about my boys every day, but they have never met either one of them. They were all excited to think of Tim’s arrival in their classroom.
Before he got there, the kids and I made a plan. “OK”, I urged them, “you all need to look bored and tired and totally down. If you can squeeze out a tear of misery, that would be great!” As Tim came down the hall, the kids all slumped into their seats, heads in their hands, frowns firmly in place. I launched into my mean old woman role.
“So….I expect you all to do that math homework this weekend! NOBODY can have any fun!”, I barked. “And you all need to hand in your…um…15 page report on…..um…the, ah…the age of the universe!” I finally took a breath and pretended to be surprised to see Tim at the door.
He was grinning, the students were giggling, and I was smiling from ear to ear.
For the next half hour, I had the surreal pleasure of watching my son, in his adult role, interacting with my fifth grade students. I noticed the kids who suddenly became giddy, the ones who had a hundred questions for Tim, and the ones who developed an immediate crush.
I saw Tim reacting to them, and I saw him watching me in my place of comfort and security. And my worlds collided and overlapped for that short time, and I was overwhelmed by the power of the moment.
I love my boy so much. My students let me relive and remember just how much I do love him and his siblings. And my love for my own children is what lets me be patient and loving with my students.
What a funny, emotional, powerful half hour I had today!
Now I just hope I can coax Matt into my classroom!