Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I feel old, but I feel PROUD... (The Wednesday Files)
Ten years ago I made a quick decision, just on a whim really, to pack up and go on a mission trip to the Republic of Palau. When I say quick decision, I mean it went like this: "Christmas break was a little boring. I think I will go on the trip for Spring Break so I have something fun to do." Yup, that was it.
So I went. And, of course, it was wonderful. But more importantly than being wonderful, I made another quick decision. While eating a PB&J with some Americans who were taking a year off of college to teach school there I mentioned how great of an experience they were having. "You should do it," one of them said.
"Yeah, that sounds good. But not next year, I have to be home next year."
"No worries," she replied, "come back the year after that."
"I think I could do that..."
"And if you taught 4th grade you would have my little 2nd graders. They are the best kids in the world!"
"Sure, why not?"
And so I did. I went two school years later, taught 4th grade, and spent the year with the best kids in the world.
I was only 20, but I was living on an island in the middle of nowhere, busting out lesson plans and hugs, loving every minute of it.
These kids, all 18 of them, wiggled their way into my heart.
Yes, I have frizzy hair in that picture. And no make-up. It was hot. No, scratch that, it was hotter than hot. Everyday around 1:30, right as we were trying to make our way through our English lesson, sweat would start dripping down their faces and my back, eyes would start closing and heads would start dropping, and the air would get really stagnant. But then the rain would come and pour down for 15 minutes, bringing some relief into our afternoon.
Even in the middle of that heat, and the fight against large spiders, my days were filled with happiness. These kids, my kids, filled my days with hugs and laughter and definitely taught me a thing or two.
There are so many things I could tell you about that time of my life, so many, but today I just need to tell you one --
my kids graduated high school this past weekend.
The last time I saw them, they were no longer my fourth graders, but my friend Niki's 7th-graders. (She and I had a conversation something like the one above at one point...) They were starting middle school and heading into the world of first crushes and time spent in front of the mirror. No longer were they my little kids sharing their cookies with me. But they were still my kids. They were the first ones to make a spot in my heart in that fashion, and they would always have that place that only a first class can hold.
Today, they are heading off to college and boot camp.
They are all grown up.
I feel old, I really do. But more than that, I feel proud. Wiseman is no longer that little boy who went against my call to stop jumping off of the ledge and wound up breaking his arm... nope, he has been sworn into the Marine Corp.
Kylee isn't trying to hide the ice cream she was stuffing into her face while I was out of the room. She is heading off to college.
I am not a mother yet, but I think I understand when all you moms say, "They grow up so fast."
To my once-little kids in the class of 2012, I am proud of you, I believe in your ability to do great things for our world, and I love you.
Dios lomekngeltengat er kau!