When I was in high school my senior superlative was “most likely to have 10 kids”. At our 10 year reunion this came up again as a classmate pointed out how true our predictions had been. Obviously in the time that transpired I had not had 10 kids. I had so many more than that. For six years, student after student’s name appeared on a roster, and then became attached to little faces in chairs. Or sometimes big faces as the case may be.
I remember the fearful moment I stood in front of my first class of as a brand new teacher. They stared at me, and I stared back, face frozen in an awkward deer-in-headlights smile. Then bell rang, and I realized I was the grown up in the room. Something changed in that moment. My heart opened wider than I ever thought possible and they all climbed in. I remember later on that first day walking down the hall on a planning period and one of those same students caught a glimpse of me from his 6th grade math class. He looked around and with an impish grin, gave a surreptitious wave of his little hand. I realized within mere hours I had gone from standing terrified in front of middle school strangers, to walking the halls of a school populated by “my kids”.
Year after year passed and my heart has never failed to grow with each name and face. I still crawl across the summer vacation finish line as much any teacher, but with each ending comes a little sadness. This year was a particularly sad good-bye, as I will be teaching at a new school in the fall. (More on that another time) However, I did get to spend my golden birthday with the seniors chaperoning the senior trip. As I spent some time reflecting on my own senior year and the time that has passed since then, I am amazed how full my heart has become over the years. Faces, names, and memories accumulate year after year. And there’s always room for more. Transitions and endings can hurt, but I have learned to value the precious commodity that time is. J.M Barrie said it best when he penned the opening words of Peter Pan: “All children grow up, except one.”