I was having a hard time getting language class off the ground. The weather was hot. The students were restless and ready for lunch. Distractions abounded. I saw one student ceremoniously swinging his finger in the air, a long string of snot hanging from it. Before I could reach him with a tissue, he was busy rubbing the said finger on the carpet. At the same moment, I noticed several other students had their eyes glued to L’s desk, where a big black spider had decided to make a grand appearance. “Don’t smash him!” L yelped as I approached his desk. So I caught the spider in a plastic container and put it safely on my desk, telling the boys that they could play with it at lunchtime. Now, back to nouns and adjectives. . .
Yup, just another typical day in my third grade classroom. Or was it?
Once upon a time I used to write occasionally here in this space. Then, life happened. To be more specific, twenty-three little mischief makers came hoppity-bopping into my life. At all hours of the day, my mind has been occupied with planning, strategizing, problem-solving, and simply trying to make things work better in my classroom. With the kind of class I had this year, I didn’t have much creative energy left for anything else.
You wonder what I mean about the kind of class I had? Well, I can tell you this: throughout the two school years before this one, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I made students miss part of recess or lose other privileges because of their behavior. Usually a verbal warning or other minor intervention was enough to keep everyone in line. This year I counted myself fortunate if I could get through an entire day without needing to administer some sort of punishment.
“Your class . . . really needs Jesus!” said one of my co-teachers. I suppose that sums it up well.
And yet they are delightful children. For most of the year I enjoyed the challenge of channeling their energy in the right direction. It’s just that by the end I was exhausted.
But on that particular day near the end of the school year when the spider and a million other things threatened to crash our language class, I wasn’t even annoyed. I was only filled with thankfulness that all of my children were sitting there alive and well. Just that morning as we were finishing our staff meeting, we teachers heard the news that there had been a school bus accident along the route that one of our buses travels each morning. Could it be our bus? The news sounded grim. Multiple casualties. A helicopter called to the scene. One child trapped under the bus. What if that was one of our children?
I have never before been so happy to see Bus 6 pull into our parking lot and to see all my children come trooping into my classroom as usual, bursting with life and energy. I watched all twenty-three chairs fill up, and I thanked God anew for my dear, noisy, naughty children.
In the end, time is always so short. Every day is a gift. With more than a week of summer break behind me, the challenges of the past school year are already shrinking in size, and I miss my children. I hope they spend the summer reading books, climbing trees, and chasing as many spiders as they like.