Closing the Teaching Chapters

Today it’s officially more than two weeks since I’ve been a teacher. It doesn’t seem so long, and also, longer. Time is funny when you try looking at it from one end.

The last few days when I could still call myself a teacher, it made me sad every time I looked at those eighteen beautiful people and realized my time with them was over. And it struck me as strange that none of the students seemed to feel any kind of sadness at all. YAY VACATION, was their attitude, and they left it at that. But then when I think about my student days, I don’t recall doing much weeping and wailing at the end of the year either. Preteens don’t seem to be given to nostalgia.

Because I am me, I am given to nearly as much nostalgia as your average grandmother despite my teen-ness. Almost everyone I told about this feeling had the same comforting response: “You could teach again next year!” And, no. It wasn’t the teaching itself that was hard to let go; it was the people I’d spent my days with and learned to love. But things never happen the same way twice, dear one- that’s CS Lewis authority for you. Next year the school won’t be exactly the same-it shouldn’t be exactly the same; but I did love it as it was and I hate to lose anything I adore.

But once it was all over and my days found new things to be filled with, I was calm about it. I enjoyed my week and a half of nearly solitary, super relaxed vacation. It surprises me how cheerful I am about it; only when I see students-and-teachers-that-were do I really feel sad. My boys especially, still almost always together with their heads of sunshine and shadow, make me lonesome. It was so delightful to be a part of their lives, to know past shyness their patently different yet equally boyish personalities.

Last Sunday evening at supper I sat next to one of my boys. In the week and a half since I was his teacher he had managed to find some shyness, but we got past it quickly. I let him play with the Snapchat filters on my phone, which worried his mother but he wasn’t rough and it was delightful to watch him having such fun with it. He showed me how if you lick a coin, it sticks to your forehead; a thing which the older boys in the group (i.e. husband of mine) found worth trying for themselves. A stranger might have thought them in training to be East Indian brides, if said stranger was a little blind.

I loved the chance to spend time with him again; I don’t like to think my part in their lives is over. I remember my kindergarten teacher. Her name was Kaye, and since we went to the same church I continued to be acquainted with her for years. But I don’t remember her and kindergarten together very well. Now that I was on the other end I wonder if she looked at me with as much love as I have for my boys. It makes me a little sad, because I don’t remember being particularly attached to her.

It’s not a bad thing, I suppose, to love a job and leave it. I’m grateful for the months I spent in teaching, grateful for Brady and Mason and all the people I learned to know and love. And it pleases my insatiable writer’s curiosity to know what it is to teach and love it, but there are so many other jobs I have never experienced. I miss it, but it is over and life keeps going.

Today I embrace the change. It feeds the writerly beast within, and if the beast isn’t fed it might devour me from the inside out. There’s always an adventure in change that you can never find in familiar things.

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