I haven’t blogged about my kids in awhile, but I feel a need to blog about them today. Mainly because I had to say goodbye to them yesterday. (And yes, I am still currently referring to them as “my kids.” Will probably continue to do so until I have new kids to refer to.)
I am a very emotional person, but I usually don’t cry during goodbyes.
Even if the other person is crying. It’s usually too much for me to process in that moment. I cry later when I’m alone and thinking about how much I miss them.
So I had a good cry last night up on my roof, thinking about these kids that I’ve been with almost every day for the past seven-plus months. I feel like their mom. Their mom who isn’t really their mom. I’m concerned about their futures, whether they’ll overcome their character flaws and fears, whether those beautiful parts of them will blossom into what they should. Part of me is in disbelief that I won’t ever get to find out.
I am so thankful for the time I got to spend with them, though. The experience of teaching them changed me as a person. It activated a mother’s heart in me that I kept hearing about in the months prior to starting this job. I used to know there was some tenderness inside me, but I didn’t think I liked kids. I didn’t think I could handle their kind of energy. When I kept hearing that I was a “mother,” it was a little hard for me to believe and understand.
But these kids, these quirky, crazy, disobedient kids, awakened that identity in me.
As their teacher, I stepped into a role I had never taken on before.
I was their teacher, their disciplinarian, their encourager, their conflict resolution coach, their comforter. Never have my actions and words felt more powerful and influential. My simple verbal affirmations meant the world to these kids. They would fight over my hugs.
I will never forget this class of kids.
The way they would pile up on my lap at “home time,” squishing as many bodies as possible on top of me. The way one girl in particular would bury her face in my neck, even more so when she realized it tickled me. The way they would show me their drawings with so much pride and excitement. The way even the most rebellious kids would beam at receiving a smiley face on the board. The way the shyest kids grew confident in their ability to face challenges.
One boy initially laughed and exclaimed, “Yayy!” when I announced I was leaving.
(That punk..) But later that day, after all the kids had left, he came running back to our classroom.
“Teacher, teacher!” he yelled from the hallway.
“Oh, hi, Kevin! What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be in Taekwondo Class?” I opened the door and smiled at him in his cute Taekwondo uniform.
“Yeah.” Glancing nervously down the hall toward the gym. “I have to go.”
“Wait, wait!” Before he could get away, I scooped him into my arms and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. “Bye, Kevin! Have fun!”
I think I’ll remember that moment, that very simple moment in particular, for a very long time.