Okay, coming on the heels of my conversation about full moon craziness, I am sure you think they were awful today. On the contrary. The kids had such a good day that I never even had that first circle to draw them in. I was paranoid that we were going to have a fire drill, so I snuck out and asked in the office. Thank God they said no, because I was content to let my kids work.
It is the sweetness of the children that touched my heart today and made me cry.
One of my kindergarten boys was trying to tell me about some big cushion that you blow up and when you sit on it, it makes a loud obnoxious sound. He couldn't remember its name, so I told him it was known as a whoopie cushion. So he and another boy started discussing different sizes of whoopie cushions that they have seen over their years.
Whoopie cushions are something that always made my father laugh. As is my habit these days, I said in passing, "My father always loved those whoopie cushions."
The second boy, whom I have known since he was a baby and who met my parents a few years ago when they visited, turned to me with a serious look on his face. "Is your dad still alive? Or did he die?"
"He died a few months ago."
"Oh yeah. He was sick, right?"
"Yes, he was very sick. He was in the hospital for seven weeks. Do you remember how much school I missed at the end of last year?"
"Well, I was at the hospital taking care of him. I stayed with him until he died."
"Oh yeah." And then his eyes lit up and he said, "I am glad he isn't sick anymore. Now you can stay here with us!"
I smiled and nodded and quickly turned away with tears in my eyes.
I hated being gone so much from my kids last year. I missed a full week in September when my grandmother died. I had a couple of sick days and an awful lot of CSE and CPSE meetings off-campus. I missed the day before Spring Break and the full week after, as Dad was in the ICU and had his brain surgery. I came home for a week and then took a long weekend to make sure he was settled in his LTAC facility. I stayed in NY for another two weeks, did conferences, and then left for the rest of the school year, starting on the Friday before Memorial Day. The following Thursday, June 2nd, their last day of school, my father passed away. June 3rd was the Moving Up Ceremony.
You and your children inevitably become very attached to each other. I have always loved how my class operates like a tightly-knit family. The children are affected when even one of them is missing. It is much more significant when one of their adults is gone, especially the one who "runs the room." I knew they had missed me when I was gone. But until that precise moment, I didn't know quite how much. And this was coming from one of my kids whom I saw frequently throughout the summer months.
Yesterday I was cleaning out my car. I reached under one of the seats and found a crumpled up piece of construction paper. I opened it up. It was a heart-shape with hearts and stars drawn on it that said, "I love you, Mr. Coventry." One of my girls, who was an Extended Day 4 last year and is a kindergartner this year, had made it. When I called my kids on the last day of school to wish them a happy summer, I was on my way up to Hospice. I told them to send my father happy thoughts of clouds, rainbows, flowers and anything else they could think of. I remember getting choked up as they called out his name to lift it up. That little girl made this heart picture for my father after I hung up with them. I will cherish it forever.