Where has the time gone? The first semester of this school year has come and gone, zipping by so quickly that I’m left with moments of blur. But no matter how blurry it was as a whole, I may never forget yesterday.
I’m still sighing. I’m still saying, “Whew.” And it’s the next morning.
Yesterday was the last day of school before Christmas break. Five days before Christmas and the little ones and their wranglers were still at school, trying to trudge forward. And all I can say is that these precious little ones…as bad as it may sound…were all strung out on Christmas crack.
Their bodies shimmied with joy, their voices trembled with excitement. Sometimes bodies fell out into the floor for no reason. Other times, little children would take off in a spontaneous run to places unknown – except our room is small and there’s no place to go!
“Do you know what my elf did last night?” (Do you know how many times I’ve heard that over the past month? For real, it’s hundreds and hundreds. But, I smile and look into the sparkling eyes and let them tell me.)
“Mrs. Rackley, it’s only __ more days ’til Christmas!” they’ve chanted since December 2nd. And I’m required by teacher law to know if they’re correct in the count or not.
But we survived it all! We made it to our winter break, even as the most glorious full moon I’ve seen in a while hovered in the sky each night. Just as with hospitals and animals, full moons and school really don’t mix very well. Until you’ve lived it, there’s no way of knowing just what the pull of the orb in the sky does to little bodies. It makes them nuts. Add in a little Christmas frenzy and…well, I’m back to saying, “Whew.”
In the midst of the chaos, a few precious moments:
We’ve been discussing animal groups in reading…reptiles, mammals, etc. The story we read informs the students that people are also mammals. In one sentence, it glosses over the fact that mammals produce milk. No further explanation (and that’s okay with me – my students are seven). So we get to the comprehension test that covers the story and a question asks, “How are all mammals the same?” The answer choices were ‘they make milk for their young, they have four legs, or they have scales’. One little boy jumps up from his seat in the middle of the test and yells out, “But Mrs. Rackley, this can’t be right. We’re mammals and how can we make our own milk for babies? That’s crazy!”
I proceeded to stumble over my tongue for thirty seconds or so (“Well…you know…and females, like mommas, can and do…but I can’t tell you exactly…so we’ll just move on…but you know, it’s like…) Yes, I’m a teacher. And yes, that was pathetic. I finally told him, “Just eliminate the two choices you know aren’t right and pick the other. And when you get home, you can talk to your parents about the milk thing.”
Sorry, parents! They are SEVEN…I just couldn’t bring myself to have a discussion about breast-feeding in a first grade classroom.
Another precious story I borrowed from a fellow teacher. She teaches Kindergarten and asked her students what their favorite thing about Christmas was. I’m sure many said the tree or presents or Santa but she had a few say celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Another student spoke up and said that he didn’t know who Jesus was. A friend beside him told him, “He is the savior of the world.”
This wasn’t a teacher led conversation…she just asked an innocent question about the holiday we are celebrating. The children had the spontaneous conversation on their own – the teacher just happened to overhear it. And honestly, I’m thankful she shared the experience with the rest of us. Those are the moments that fill me with hope.
In the hearts of children, there lies the hope for the world. Out of the mouth of babes, we hear the future unraveling. Even as they bounce around the room like kangaroos, they exert so much love. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been hugged this month or how many times I’ve been told I love you by my students. And they mean it with their whole body and heart. These precious children are the next leaders, the next teachers, the next doctors, the next artists, the next moms and dads. My Christmas prayer for each and every one of them is that they never lose all the joy they feel as children, that they never let the world tell them it’s not okay to love each other as wholly as they do now.
If only, just for a moment, I wish we all could feel that joy and love. The kind that children feel. Wouldn’t our world be so much softer and kinder if we could? That is my Christmas prayer for us all.