Monday, May 18, 2015

Academic Seasons: The Sour with the Sweet

Dear Dad, 
I always look forward to summer vacation. That sounds obvious, I realize, but for ten-plus years, I haven’t really had “summer vacation” from work. In fact, summer means more work, because the kids are on vacation, which is not, by its very definition, a vacation for a mom.

But despite the days filled with entertaining/feeding/keeping track of the bands of kids that will come and go from my house this summer, despite the heat – which I despise, and the humidity – which I despise even more, I do love summer vacation. I love the dirty, sweaty kids bursting into the house in search of Kool Aid and popcorn. I love the long nights, movies in the park, schlepping to the pool craziness of summer. It’s both laid back and chaotic
all at once.

This year, the start of summer is bitter sweet for me. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my kids. I’m excited about the various trips and expeditions we have planned, even the slightly dreaded high school reunion that happens this summer. I can’t wait to not have to worry about getting people, including myself, up and out the door. I love Portland in the summer. Beach days, movie nights, shaved ice from the guy who has two side by side food carts – shaved ice and macaroni and cheese – and dashes back and forth between the two.

At the same time, I will miss going into work each week. I’ve only been at this school for not-quite six months, but I already love it. I love my job, I love my library, I love the kids. Today marked the beginning of the closing of the library for the year. Last days for check-outs, last bulletin boards hung up, reports going into boxes telling teachers what books they still have out. I have a group of fifth graders, a little book club - they call themselves The Library Foxes - who come in at recess and take turns reading Watership Down while the others color or make signs for me or just lounge around the library listening. I love them. They are so eager and excited about books and … sweet. They are trying to figure out how to keep the book club going over summer which …. gosh, it just melts my heart.  Some of them are moving on next year to a different school, others will
stay through 8th grade, either way, they will change so much over the summer, and next year they will be middle schoolers, with all that implies.

And they aren’t the only ones. All the kids, even the ones who accidentally stick gum between the pages of books/leave them out in the rain/can not sit sill for a ten-minute story, they have all inched their way into my heart, and much as love the idea of summer vacation, I know I will not want to say goodbye when the last day of school rolls around in a few weeks.

Today when I got to school there was a note from a first grader on my desk. “Can we have 2000 more minutes of library PLEASE Gillian?”  And I wish I could say “Heck yeah we can!”

I don’t remember feeling that way as a classroom teacher. I don’t remember wishing we had just a few more weeks, time for one more book, a few more silly projects, a couple more recesses with the Library Foxes. By the end of the year I was always so DONE. So ready for a break. It feels weird that I’m kind of not ready to let go of this crop of kids, that I’m as sorry to see the year end as I am excited for the summer to start.  Lucky, lucky me. I’m a happy camper either way.

                                                                                             - Gillian


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