And they’re gone…
My Mini Me was built for school. Sometime in mid-August, we would hear her sigh and say, “I can’t wait to go back to school.” We shopped for back to school supplies with a nerdy vigor usually reserved for discovering unknown planets and new life forms. We went to no less than three stores to find the perfect writing notebook because of course we did. We squealed when the new lunch box arrived along with shiny new containers for snacks and goodies. We received the wish list from her new teacher and bought every single item. And then bought her more because that’s how we do. In short, we relished the back-to-school pre-season combined with the lingering ability to still sleep late, spend an afternoon on the beach and snuggle with a movie after dinner.
And then the unthinkable happened.
My Mini Mr. started kindergarten.
(Did everyone else hear the ominous music or is that still only in my head?)
Of course while Mini Me and I were giggling over new Flair pens, I was also busy purchasing a new back pack, lunch box, and school supplies for my little buddy. But organizing these particular items did not give me the same sense of glee; instead I felt nothing but a knot in my stomach. They couldn’t really be taking my baby, right?
“Well, hello, contradictory feelings, how are you today? I have to say, I am not particularly enjoying this emotional roller coaster…”
The night before school started we picked out clothes. We read The Kissing Hand, a night before school starts tradition. I made lunches. We woke up. I made pancakes. We posed with little signs and smiled and I posted it all on Facebook on autopilot. We piled in the car. We drove to school, parked and took more pictures. Then my minis held hands and they both walked inside. The building swallowed them up, leaving me outside, desperate to keep a smile on my face as I waved to other parents and made a beeline for my car. And then I cried. I mean really cried.
I always loved my students, but watching my own minis walk away from me and into a new classroom put these relationships in a whole new light. As a teacher, I depended on developing trusting relationships in order to create a classroom community that took risks and grew together. As a parent, I am depending on someone to develop those trusting relationships with my minis so that they can grow into fantastic little people who are independent from me. The teacher in me knows there will be tough days, but it will be those difficult days that will lead to breakthroughs in learning and personal growth. The mother in me knows these days will bring me to my knees.
Donalyn Miller, the goddess of reading instruction says, “I realized that every lesson, conference, response and assignment I taught must lead students away from me and toward their autonomy as literate people.” I share this idea with the teachers I work with on the daily. I mean, she’s good, right? In my new world of contradictions, I understand that this rings true at home as well. Every conversation, hug, consequence, response needs to lead my minis away from me and toward being kind, thoughtful, independent people.
There is a voice in the back of my head that whispers to me, “maybe now you don’t have to work between 8:30 and 11:30 pm. Maybe now you can blog again…” And I feel a flutter of excitement. With this back to school season, I might also gain a little of myself back again which is a reason to celebrate and, of course, make lists. Celebratory lists to be completed during day light hours!
As we all adjust and I attempt to make my 75th come back, let’s celebrate and support each other in equal measure.
(I’m not crying, you’re crying.)