Welcome back, folks. Reality is setting in. I am in my cubby (my cubicle is so small I refuse to call it a cubicle and instead refer to it as a cubby) and organizing my mind. My mind is everywhere. Scattered, smattered, and covered like some good greasy hash browns from Waffle House. This is what happens after 10 days off that included too much food, too much drinking, too much quality time with my kids inside an 800 square foot apartment, too much TV (Call the Midwife! American Horror Story Asylum!) and not enough reading and writing.
And, just because life likes to deliver me reminders that juggling the various hats of professor, mother, wife, and friend is nearly impossible, Alexandra ended up with a nasty ear infection yesterday and had to stay home on the first day she was due back to school. At first she was overjoyed when Adam and I decided we couldn’t/shouldn’t send her. She gloated to her brother and planned a day of drawing, eating the stale gingerbread house, and watching movies. However, as the day wore on, she asked again and again what her class was doing at various times. “Are they eating lunch now? What room are they in now? Is it recess?” And, as if the class could sense Alexandra’s longing, just as we were walking into our yard after seeing the doctor and going to the pharmacy, her class exited the gym (which is situated right next door to our house in a separate building) and we saw her teacher and classmates. She hid from them behind our stoop shyly and then immediately burst into tears missing them.
After six weeks of crying at drop off, I am relieved and deeply happy.
I know her love is a fact because Ms. Imperiale, her amazing kindergarten teacher, gave each of the kids a little snowman stuffed animal, a candy cane, and a little card with a picture of herself riding a statue dragon, fist in the air, mouth contorted into what I can only assume was a barbaric yawp. I didn’t think Alexandra cared much for the card (I thought she only had eyes for the candy cane), but later I saw that taped over her desk (where did she get the tape?!) was Ms. Imperiale’s photograph, situated right at eye level, a little altar, if you will. The next day, after getting a card from a classmate (replete with yet another candy cane), the kitty sticker from that card because Ms. Imperiale’s crown.
As the teachers of Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School return to their classrooms today, I know they will be flooded by the love their students have for them, even amid the grief. I am sure those students see their teachers even more clearly as the heroes they truly are, but they were heroes before December 14th, too. Being a good teacher, a teacher who can make his/her students love them but simply teaching and teaching well, is my kind of hero.
Here’s to a new year, a new semester (here at community college), and to loving the teachers in your life more openly. 2013 should = the year of teacher love. Enough teacher hating. Enough.