When I Go

Serene me.

What is my next adventure?

When I go, when I finally leave my school behind, what will I be thinking?

After 21 Septembers of coming to this school on opening day, what will I be feeling on that September morning when I don’t?

Who will I be, when I’m no longer that “nice teacher” at my school?

What will I miss?

What will I be so happy to have escaped?


I will NOT miss: the copier, with its insatiable need to eat fifth grade math worksheets.       I will not miss the pencils all over the floor, or the crayons on the heater.    I will most assuredly not miss the sound of my own tired voice, saying “If you can hear my voice, clap once!” or “In line, please!”

I will not miss having to wait until 1 o’clock for lunch, even though breakfast was a banana at 6 AM.

I will NOT miss my commute.  I don’t know why so many people feel it necessary to careen down the highway at 80 mph in a 55 mph zone.  I don’t know why they think it is acceptable to flash me the finger as they do.

I will not miss the early morning wake ups.  The older I get, the less I sleep.  That 6 AM alarm gets earlier every year.

I will not miss the testing, the data, the measurement, the standards, the strands, the Common Core or the stupid shiny boxed kits of curriculum.  I will not miss the mini-lessons, the anchor charts, the obnoxious rubrics or the jargon. I will not miss the buzzwords, the best practices or the formative and summative assessments.

I absolutely, positively will not miss one single thing that reduces a child to a number, a level, a score or a leveled group.


What will I miss in three short weeks, when I leave my teaching career behind me?

I will miss all of those incredible moments with children, when I look at them and they look at me, and when we both realize that a new goal has been reached.

i will miss watching a student with serious learning disabilities as he decodes a four syllable word on his own,  then looks at me with his blue eyes gleaming. I will miss hearing him say, “I did it!”

For sure, I will miss those mornings when I find myself at my desk surrounded by eager children who want to tell me about some little event in their lives. “Karen!  Last night my Dad said the funniest thing!”  or “My puppy was sick last night.” or “I tried to do the homework, but I’m not sure I got it right. Can you help me?”

I will so miss being asked to help.  I will desperately miss the end-of-the day hugs, and the cries of “See you tomorrow!”

I will miss seeing them grow for ten months. They will grow taller, and more confident and more skilled. The boys will begin to show knuckles on their hands and jawbones in their faces.  The girls will grow more beautiful as they approach their adult selves.  And I won’t be there to record it, or comment on it, or help them to come to grips with it.

I will miss those moments when they know that they have written a wonderful story. I will miss the excitement that they’ll feel when they figure out one of the metaphors from “The City of Ember.”

I’ll miss reading “The Liberation of Gabriel King” and “Granny Torelli Makes Soup”.

I will miss them.  I will miss them all so much.

Its time to go, and I know it.

Still, I will miss those beautiful faces so very much.

Shifting dreams

Its funny, how your dreams change and evolve over time.

It seems like it was only a few sunsets ago that I was dreaming and yearning for motherhood.  More than anything, all I wanted from life was to have my own babies to hold and cherish.  My entire focus was on making that dream come true.  Diapers and stuffed bears and powder and blankies. That seemed like “the good life” to me.

And then for a while, my dreams were about having all five of us take a vacation together. Somewhere new and special.  Somewhere that seemed a little adventurous. That would be “the good life”, wouldn’t it? Taking the kids to Europe? Camping in the Canadian maritimes? We did those things, and they were fabulous.  The good life dreams still seemed elusive.

Along the way, “the good life” started to seem like it would be out there when we finally had enough money to relax a bit. Maybe we’d hit that point when the kids were grown up and our salaries had increased some. Maybe it would come when we finally paid off the mortgage.  I started to dream and wish for “new”.  A new couch, a new dishwasher, one of those new fridges with the automatic ice maker.  I still don’t have everything all shiny and new, but I definitely have enough. I have finally reached the point where an unexpected car repair doesn’t lead me to panic.

This morning I woke up in the pitch dark again.  To the sound of pouring, driving rain. Again.  The room was chilly, and damp. Even the dogs were sound asleep. I rolled to my side, pulling the blankets around my neck. “Just five more minutes,” my brain begged. “Just five.”  I didn’t want to get up in darkness again. I didn’t want to gulp down my coffee while checking my email. I didn’t want to drive for an hour through the flooded highways yet again, dragging my weary bones to work.

Retirement.  Ah, yes.  Won’t that be “the good life”?  To sleep through the darkness, and only get up when the sun is high?  To pull on flannel pants, and keep them on for the whole wet day? That’s my new “good life.”  A cold, driving rain, and me inside with the dogs and a blanket and a good book.

I guess its good to have dreams, right? Its good to be looking forward, to embrace the future with joy.  But I am trying to be careful about it at the same time.

Today I will slog through the traffic, endure the wet leaves and dark highway, strive for patience as the whole world tries to get to work at the same time.  I’ll feel my aching back and neck, and wish for my soft flannel pants.

Then I’ll get to my classroom, flip on the lights, feed the fish and get ready to greet the gang of giggling children who will rush in the door to chat with me.

Maybe this is actually “the good life” right now, and I’m right smack in the middle of it.