Over time the older ones, the ones who used to be in my classroom, gradually get a little more aloof, walking by me without a glance. At first it is a little lonely watching kids who used to be my best friends pass without a nod. It's just part of the rhythm of being a teacher. Last year we went through an elaborate fifteen step handshake to say goodbye which ended up with a sort of minor body slam. This year I'm lucky to get a, "See ya, Mr. O." from the fourth graders as they step into their cars.
At the beginning of this year the closeness was still there as we were trying to figure out our new places. Those big fourth graders trying to understand how to be with another grownup, me trying to figure out my new little second graders. Now they love their new teacher Tameka, and I have fallen in love with my new class. It happens slowly. Millimeter by millimeter.
As the kids peel off to get in their cars or daycare busses I usually get a fist bump, a hug or a high five from my own students. The fifth grade safety patrol takes care of getting the kids into their cars. They open the doors, help deposit the kids and give a somewhat bland, "Have a nice day," before closing the doors safely. The circle of children left behind gets smaller and smaller. The noise dies down and we can hear each other without too much difficulty.
The other day one of my little boys said, "I've seen your blog, Mr. O. It's really cool."
"Really? You read my blog?"
"Yeah, well I didn't really read it. More like I just looked at it."
"How can you look at all that text and not read?" I wasn't really convinced that he had been to the blog.
"Why don't you put some pictures on it? I mean, it would be so much cooler if you did."
"I'll take that under advisement," I said, knowing he's probably right. "So how do I know that you actually looked at my blog if you didn't read anything on it?"
"It's got this weird little picture of you playing your good guitar on it up in the corner."
"Yep, that's mine all right."
"Man, you write a lot on that thing," he said.
"Yeah, well, it's sort of a hobby, sort of something that I am in the habit of lately."
"Well, you just keep writing those stories," he said.
"Thanks, buddy, I will. Maybe you can read one some time."
"Yeah, sure," he said, not insincerely. He could see his ride in the carpool line and stood up and hefted his backpack over his shoulder in the late afternoon sunshine. "I probably will someday." He headed out to the curb where the safety patrol was waiting to open the door for him. "You know Mr. O., you keep writing those stories and putting them on your blog and stuff and then people can read all of that when you die."
Awkward silence. "Hmmm?"
"You know, when your dead, people who didn't get a chance to read your blog can go on the internet and look up your stuff and read all about you."
"Okay..." I said.
"But that's a long time from now... more than likely... so don't think about anything like that."
"All right, man, I won't. See you tomorrow. Don't forget to bring your book on Martin Luther King for literature study."
"Hey, Mr. O... that thing I just said? About when you're dead? Don't think about that, okay?"
"Okay, I won't. And thanks."
"Sure, see ya tomorrow, Mr. O."