The end of the school year is such a mixed bag of emotions.
I am so tired. My knees hurt. My back hurts. My brain is literally leaking out my nose at this point.
I can’t manage on more checkmark on one more checklist. I can barely put one foot in front of the other.
Next fall, my classroom will be moving to a new location in our school. This means that every book, folder, file, video, science unit, puzzle, stapler, paper clip and thumb tack has been packed and boxed up.
I want to be all done.
I NEED to be all done!
But I don’t want to be all done with these kids. I want to take a nice vacation, recharge my badly flagging batteries, sleep for about a week, reintroduce myself to my elliptical machine, read a trashy novel, and then come back.
To these kids.
You see, I have thought about these 25 children every day for the past ten months. I have woken up at night worried about their math skills. I have spent Sunday afternoons finding interesting history sites with them in mind. I’ve read books that they have recommended, and then talked with them over lunch about the authors and the characters. I’ve played games with them, and learned games from them. I’ve yelled at them, laughed with them, hugged them and scolded them.
For the past ten months, they’ve been my closest companions. Truly.
My own children are grown and gone. I see my husband in the evening, but only for a few hours before I fall asleep. I have friends who I see twice a month, siblings who I see more rarely. I visit my Mom every Thursday, and my children visit me less than I would like.
I spend five days a week with my students.
I don’t know how sad it is to say this, but the people who I laugh with the most are those 25 kids who come into my classroom every day. We tell each other stories about our lives. We kid each other about our fashion choices, our silly mistakes and our lunches. We form little private jokes, and we make up our own quirky rituals.
For ten months, I was the facilitator of a group that supported each member, grew together, shared joys and sorrows and victories and losses. As is true every year, for ten months my heart and soul and nearly all of my energy went into creating, sustaining and enjoying the little community of our classroom.
But every year June comes around, and suddenly, there is no more class. Our little group has been dissolved, and we are no longer that happy community who laughed at the rutabaga math problem last September. We are, instead, a group of individuals, each heading off in a different direction.
And my heart is just so heavy.
I am happy for my vacation. I am pleased with a job well done. I am excited for my students, knowing that they are headed off to sixth grade with a solid grounding and a good set of skills.
But I am so incredibly sad to realize that in only two more school days, I will no longer have a place in their lives, and I will no longer be the one who shares their jokes and stories.
Good bye, fifth graders! I am surely going to miss you.