Shouldn’t I feel tired at the end of the first day of kindergarten? Like, unable-to-string-words-together exhausted? I am ravenous—a reminder of how much energy it took just to get my little ones’ supplies unpacked, help them hang their backpacks in the correctly numbered cubbies, and be sure their snacks and lunches were separated. But I am not tired. In fact, I am completely energized. Alive, happy. Happy!
It seems that Sandy and all this post-Sandy stress have made me love teaching even more. I see myself in the children, and the children in me. I understand.
I see in them the uncertainty: When is snack? What is snack? It’s usually something my mom puts in front of me at home. Did I bring it? Is it the sandwich? Is it the grapes? Could my teacher mean the cookies? Will she be mad if I ask again? (What is the “footing”? Is it the foundation? Does that get raised? Will it be the base of the whole house? Or just the raised part? Do I need to know? Should I ask a third time?)
I see in them the anxiety: When can I see my mom? Hasn’t it been days since this morning? I thought we were going home! Why did she bring me to the auditorium? She said we would be getting on the bus! Those kids are leaving. I want to leave! This is not the bus! Will I be left behind? I want to hug my mom. I waaant my mooomm!!!! (When can I move home? Why is my money disappearing? All these people’s houses are finished. I want my house finished! I was supposed to live in this apartment for four months! It’s going to be a year! I just want to go home at the end of the day to a warm, beautiful place that is mine. I want to go hooooome!)
If I had continued to be comfortable, I would not be learning like they are, these kids who left everything familiar for a confusing, strange, scary, exciting place unlike anywhere they’ve ever been. I would not be meeting the people I’ve met, expanding my world through new connections. I would not have met so many teachers. I would not be exploring formerly untried creative self-expression like I have through this blog. I would not be trying to meet high expectations that with much effort and guidance, I find I can meet.
I am being schooled. And I totally get it. It’s hard. I have cried so many times since Sandy School started. I have been in denial. I’ve been defiant. I’ve begged for help with something I know I could do myself—if I had any courage left after spending so much of it.
I could cry just thinking about what some of those kids went through today. When I am back home, I have often said, I will do everything in my power to help others in my position.
Today, I did. Tomorrow, I will. I can, my whole life. Because we are all in the same position—we long to be heard, and understood, and loved.