Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This post is dedicated to my fourth grade students...

I knew going back to work full time this year was going to be hard.  I hadn't been an official teacher since the fall semester of 2006.  Andrew was born in January of 2007, and I pretty much never went back to school after that.  I loved teaching.  I loved children.  But the truth was that now I had a child of my own, and nothing in the world compares to the love you have for your child.  He was all that mattered.
So Andrew's first year of life, I was his teacher.  And he was mine.  We learned and grew together, during some of the best days of my life.  I'll never forget that year for as long as I live.  My special chance to get to be a stay at home mommy, which I'd always wanted.  Had it not been for Andrew's health concerns, I would never have been able to do it.  So, in an indirect way, his little heart gave us the chance to be together and form a bond which is just indescribable.

Last year I was blessed to have found a perfect part time teaching job.  I had to switch schools, and grade levels, in order to make it work.  But it was so worth it.  I was able to share a 4th grade classroom with another teacher who had been there for 10 years.  I wasn't sure how it was going to work out, but it did.  And working part time is the best thing in the world.  That balance that I craved, to be able to be a good mommy and a good teacher, was so easy when I could do both.

But I knew it wouldn't last forever.  I was easing my way back into it because financially speaking, we just couldn't swing it.  I clung to my days off with Andrew so tightly.  I knew they were soon going to be a distant memory.  And I was so sad to see them end.  But the truth was, Andrew was ready.  Ready to go to school.  To play with other kids.  Socialize.  Learn things that I couldn't teach him anymore.  And I had to accept that.

But still, I knew going back to work full time this year was going to be one of the toughest things I've had to do.  But can I just tell you that my class this year makes it so much less difficult?  I was able to take over the full time 4th grade position, as my teaching partner retired.  It was perfect timing.  Meant to be.  And I fully believe that every child in my classroom this year was placed there for a reason.
They are awesome.  In ten years of teaching I have never had such a special class.  Everything about going back to work full time is hard.  I have a long drive to school (30 minutes one way- in good weather!  Add another 30 on the road conditions we've been having this winter!)  I only get to see Andrew for about 10 minutes in the mornings as we are rushing around, trying to get ready and get out the door.  No more cuddling in mommy's bed in the mornings when daddy leaves for work.  Oh how I miss that.  After school all I want to do is get Andrew home from day care as soon as possible, and go home.  Forget going to the grocery store, or Target, or all those other typical errands we have to do.  On the weekends I don't want to go anywhere or do anything either, because I want to make up for all the time I missed seeing Andrew during the week.

But in all those rushed minutes as I am stressed out, trying to get to work on time, desperately trying to find that balance I desire...all I can think of is, thank goodness I have a good class!
They really make it all worth it.  They make it easy for me.  Oh how God has blessed me.  How He places people and things in your life just at the right moments.  How He creates the perfect time for things.  I know I was brought to this school for a reason, at just the right time.

My students love Andrew.  Which is a good thing, since I love to talk about him!  They are so funny.  Right when we are about to start a really difficult math lesson, or something else they don't think they want to do, someone will blurt out "Talk about Andrew!"  They know that will distract me!  Ha!  They crack me up.  They love this blog, which I show them from time to time, in the last few minutes of the day on Fridays sometimes.  They love to see pictures and hear stories about Andrew.  They love "Andrew videos," as they call them.  You may recall this post, when I brought Andrew to school in the fall.  None of them have forgotten about it, and they talk about it all the time!

This past Friday was such a fun day at school.  The Valentine party!  This is a typically chaotic day for a teacher.  The kids are usually crazy, excited, and not in the mood to learn a thing!  The staff does "secret cupid" instead of Secret Santa.  We draw names and throughout the week leave little gifts for our person, then on Friday we have the big reveal with a "bigger" gift.  It was so fun!  The day started out with my secret cupid revealing herself with an awesome treat bucket of all my favorite things!
Let me tell you, this made my whole day!  I was so excited!  We had turned in a sheet earlier for our secret cupid so they knew some things we liked.  My secret cupid waited until Friday to give me all the things from my list (literally!)  I said I liked movies, snickers, milk duds, gummy hearts, root beer and white zinfandel (for an "out of school" drink, which was one of the favorites we had to list!  Ha!)  I got it all, complete with a box of popcorn and a gift certificate to Blockbuster to rent my favorite movie!  I am telling you, this was an amazing way to start the day!  I think I had a permanent smile plastered on my face the whole day!  Ha!

I have always had to plan my own parties as a teacher.  But at this school, the parents do it.  It is so awesome.  A couple of moms came in on Thursday after school and decked the classroom out in Valentines!  Then on Friday I had 5 parents show up with fun games, more decorations, treats, everything you can imagine to have the most fun Valentine party a kid could ask for.  My students were beyond excited.  They kept saying "this is the best party ever!"
These sweet little girls are Paige and Natalie.  Their moms came to the classroom after school the day before to put up neat decorations for the party.  Paige's mom is our homeroom mom and did a lot of the planning and organizing for the party.  In addition to all the neat things she brought for the class, she brought in this adorable stuffed monkey and balloon for Andrew!  I couldn't believe it.  They said it was for Andrew from the class.  I was so touched- it just made me tear up!  I promised the kids I'd take video of Andrew's reaction and blog about it!
He absolutely loved it!
I had gone home first to set it up on the table for him so he'd see it right away.  I told him he had a surprise at home and he was so excited.
They knew Andrew loves monkeys!  Ha!  He even gave out Valentines with wild animals (monkeys included!) to his friends at school.
They made this little boy very happy!
The balloon was even a monkey!  It was so cute!

I promised the kids I'd do an "Andrew video" of his reaction, too, so I got it on film for them! :)  Here ya go 4th graders!!

So, while this has been one of the toughest years for me, trying to learn how to balance being a good mommy, wife, and working full time, I am so blessed to be able to say that I love my job so much.  I know I was a born teacher.  It's in my blood.  I have always had a passion for it, and for children.  I love making a difference in a child's life.  I truly believe teaching is the most rewarding profession there is.  I am so thankful God called me to be a teacher.  And that he also made me a mommy to one very special little boy.
My cup runneth over...

1 comment:

The Carter's said...

That was PRECIOUS!

I'm so glad you have a good class...that does make ALL the difference in the world! Reading that makes me miss my fifth graders (at least for a minute ;).

Enjoy your great class, AND your time with that cute little monkey!

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