Today I picked Emma up from daycare. She was almost in tears; this was her last day at the daycare where she’s gone for three years. She said a sad goodbye to her best friend Lydia (after exchanging phone numbers) and we left the building. Every milestone — entering the elevator, leaving the elevator, walking out through the main doors — evoked a little sob, because “It’s the last time!”
I know just how she feels.
Today was the last public exam at The Murphy Centre — my World History course. I’ll be at school for a few more days doing teachery stuff, but this is the last day the students will be there. I said my farewells, said “Have a good summer,” and “Stay in touch” and was even coerced into a few hugs (I’m not a natural-born hugger, but I will do it if the need is great enough).
Some goodbyes were harder than others, even knowing that we’ll try to stay in touch. The occasional drop-in visit or email from a former student can’t take the place of the hours spent together hanging out and occasionally even learning in my beloved, shabby classroom/office where the plaster is peeling off the walls and the mold lining the window frames.
We’re moving out of the building in a week or two. The new building is shiny and clean and freshly painted and refreshingly free of HUGE DEAD RATS like the one I found while I was packing up recyclables in the basement the other day. Not gonna miss the peeling plaster or the mold or the HUGE DEAD RATS. I will miss my two big windows with the view of Water Street. I’ll miss the Play-Doh on the ceiling and the walls that have encompassed so many memories. In a few weeks I’ll be focused on making new memories in the new place with new people — and a few of the old ones, since some of my students will be back in September for another year. But right now, this is my time for saying goodbye.
Only one other room I’ve ever worked in has left me with so many wonderful, unforgettable, bittersweet memories as this room has (for those keeping track, the other room would be my first Kingsway office where I spent the first two years of my teaching career). Memories, of course, are really all about people, but they get connected with places and then it gets hard to leave those places behind.
I’m putting in two pictures so you can see what I’ll be missing. One is of me and Paul and Ellie hanging out in my room. If I had a dollar for every hour I’d spent hanging out with these two, I’d be well on my way to being repaid for the chocolates I’ve bought to fill the cup on my classroom table. The other is of me with Ryan and Chris at Achievement Night, beaming over how I proud I am of these two graduates.
These are just four of the many students I have loved spending time with this year. They represent all my best memories –- the raucous laughter, the off-the-wall humour, the wildly inappropriate classroom behavior. (And that’s just me – you should see what the students are like!) They represent the quieter moments too, the shared conversations where we touch on a little of the past, the future, and the meaning we find in the present moment. I love these young people like crazy, and I am insanely proud of what they are accomplishing, and I will miss them over the summer. Yes, I’m looking forward to sunny days in the backyard, trips to the pool, and our family vacation – but another part of me can’t wait for September so it can all start again. In a different place with fewer big windows and fewer dead rats, but the same chocolates on the table, the same Play-Doh on the ceiling, and the same love and laughter carrying us through the day.