I said good-bye to one of my young friends today. It’s very likely that I’ll never see her again. We spent a lot of time together. 178 school days. She and her family are moving to Texas. Grown-up stuff. A good job for Dad. Mom is a public school educator. She can get a job there no problem.
We’ve known for a while that this would be her last day. She’s taking off a couple of days before the rest of us. The kids were all brave about it. No one cried. That was best for her. These kids have been together for all of Kindergarten, first and now second grade. They know each other so well. They know the important stuff that a lot of adults don’t know about their best friends. Stuff like what kinds of “expert projects” she did over these three years and what her favorite animal is. They know that she almost always gets school lunch and that her dad is a chef. They know that her favorite colors are pink and purple. They all know that she is the best “spy” in our favorite class playground game and what her favorite shows are on the Disney channel. Everyone knows that she is an awesome bongo player and how she is such a classy dancer. And that girl can sing! We’ll sing, but it won’t be the same without her voice.
So while I have known this beautiful girl for a full school year, the rest of the class has known her for 3 years. That’s 3/8 of her young life. The rest of us will be together again next year. That is one of the great things about working at the Center for Inquiry. But it won’t be the same without our little friend. We’ll write, email, maybe do a little face time. But it won’t be the same without her in our space, laughing with us – learning with us.
When we came in from a late recess today and were getting ready to leave, I could tell that she was a little restless, a little nervous about the road ahead. As we lined up to leave a few of us started to tear up. But we were brave. That was best for her.
She came up to hug me one last time. I was dusty and sweaty from our last game of dodge ball. She moved my sweaty arms aside and pulled into my damp shirt and hugged me. Hard. She tipped her head back and looked directly into my eyes and told me that she loved me. That she would always remember me. She told me that I was the best teacher a girl could ever have.
As she headed home today, into a future that I won’t know very much about, I was counting my blessings. When people find out that I work with young children a lot of times I hear, “You must have so much patience!” The fact is, I don’t think I would have the patience to work with grown ups. Teaching little ones has so many rewards that can’t be measured or totaled.
On Friday, as I say good-bye to 21 other little best friends, I know that after our summer break those bodies and minds will change and grow. Big teeth will replace baby teeth. Legs will be longer, hairstyles will change. But we’ll greet each other next August with sincere appreciation and get right back to business. We’ll miss our friend who is moving away, but we’ll greet another new best friend. She’ll be absorbed into our family and after a little while no one will be able to tell that she is the newbie.
After 33 years in this business, I still love it.