I have been waiting for today for a while now.
Not because I do not love what I do.
My job is a blessing in my life; I really believe I have been called to teach.
But the Good Lord knows that teachers, especially Kindergarten Teachers, need time to rest, rejuvinate, and HEAL.
I did not cry when I took down my students’ artwork.
I did not cry when they cleaned out their desks until they were empty.
I did not cry when I looked at pictures I had taken in the beginning of the school year and noticed how much plumper their little faces were, how much shorter their limbs appeared.
I did not cry when they brought me handmade cards with tiny treasures (woohoo for giftcards!) inside.
I was grateful.
But I did not cry.
The tears did not come until I realized, at some specific moment in a day filled with laughter and friendships and a positively divine luau, that Superman would no longer be my student.
He will always be my son.
But this year, I had the privilage, the great opportunity, to be his Kindergarten Teacher.
You know. The one that instills in you the love of learning, the passion for school, the beauty of imagination.
I was so nervous in early September, when the school year began.
Would he listen to me? Would he take me seriously?
Would I have to kill him if he didn’t?
We were both so shy in the beginning, not really knowing what to expect.
He would call me Teacher at school, the word sounding so odd and misplaced on his little tongue.
Sometimes, when I was cooking dinner at home, he would say “Teacher, can I have some milk?” and I would cringe, not knowing how to deal with this title; I just missed being called mommy.
But soon we fell into a groove, he and I.
I taught him how to read.
I taught him how to add.
I taught him how to use his words to defend, empower, and stand up for himself.
I shushed him.
And pulled him aside when no one was looking, whispering in his ear “do you need to go to the office?”
I kissed him before P.E, during recess, at lunch, and in-between science and art. And more importantly, he let me.
I admonished him for leaving his backpack on the floor.
And for interrupting during circle time.
I struggled with calling on him too often or not enough and in the end just followed my heart and let him lead the way.
We learned together.
We learned to respect one another.
We learned to trust one another.
We learned to drive each other crazy.
And when he finally began to call me mommy in the classroom, we felt content with a relationship that was dominated by love, not social expectations.
I knew what he was going to give me for Christmas and Mother’s Day, but I opened the packages carefully, enjoyed the custom designed wrapping paper, and squealed with delight when I saw my calendar and notepad and one-of-a-kind artwork.
I watched his name go from scribbled scrawls to confident I’s and A’s and when he began to write his last name on his own, I secretly took credit.
Hey, I’m no slouch.
So today, when I turned the light off in my classroom and closed the door behind me, I felt the familiar tingle that precedes a cascade of tears.
Because this past year has been such a gift.
Something beautiful and strange and at times exhausting.
It was ours though. And I think, I hope, he has enjoyed it at least half as much as I have.
He is nervous now, about first grade.
Though his classroom is ten feet away from mine.
I smile as I reassure him, tell him about all of the times we will be together, and promise to make impromptu pit stops to visit his new room.
I swallow past the lump in my throat.
Turn my head and regain my composure.
Because I do not want him to know
that I am nervous too.
That I will look at his old desk next year and miss seeing his arm shoot up, ready to be called on to give those brilliant responses that border on genius (Hey. He’s My Kid).
But in the meantime, I am going to dive head first into summer, and linger in every spf-soaked moment.
I am that sentimental.