Friday, June 24, 2011

Growing Up

On Wednesday, my kids graduated. No, not my Ella B. My other kids. The ones I am not biologically related to, but the ones I spent 50 minutes with, 5 days a week, for the past 5 months. It may not seem like enough time to get so attached to a group, but somehow this year I did. This happens sometimes, where you end up with this magical little group that just seems to click, where everyone supports and befriends everyone else despite their different social groups outside the classroom. On any given day, they might not have looked like the "it" group that every teacher desires. They were generally unmotivated, hated to write, and often didn't hand in their work. They tried their best to get me off topic everyday, and relished the moments when they succeeded. Some barely squeaked by and I cheered extra hard for them on graduation day, knowing how lucky we were to have made it there.

Yet, despite all of this, something flourished in that little room. An energy, a vibe, something cheesy like that which made us all look forward to period 6. When they talked they were honest, invested, jovial, and sometimes even serious. They supported each other and teased each other and called each other out on everything. They laughed, a lot, and they made me laugh, too, and we became a tiny family, if only for a few months.

It's raining now as I write this and they have graduated, moved on, and I'm feeling sad in a way I never have before in the seven years that I have said goodbye to my seniors, and I'm trying to figure out why. I think that part of it is that these are a special group of kids, but I think another part of it has to do with Beezer.

This is my first year of teaching as a mother and I thought it was going to be the most miserable year of my life. How would I ever juggle working and being a mom? When would I sleep? When would I grade those stacks of paper? And now it is suddenly the end of June and I realize that it wasn't so bad. I got used to not sleeping, I became a more efficient grader, and I stopped sweating all the small stuff. I realize now that these kids give me a lot of the same things Beezer does: frustration, laughter, pride, whimsy. They helped me to make it through this year more than they could possibly imagine. And so, perhaps as I watched them receive their diplomas, I felt a twinge of what's to come, of all the moments when Beezer will be a little more independent, will move a little further away from me, and a little closer to herself, and it is beautiful and exhilarating, and also, really, really hard.

I know that we have many years with Beezer before we have to think about high school graduation, but these kids reminded me that she will be grown one day and I will have to let her go. At least I get to practice it for a few more years with someone else's children before it is my little girl standing up on that platform, flying off to do bigger and better things.

To everyone who has already had to watch their babies go, give me the strength to do it gracefully.

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