This week I visited my former workplace and saw many former students. It was a bit emotional because not only do I miss teaching, I was unable to be there when tragedy claimed many of their homes. My former classroom is almost completely gutted. I really enjoyed my visit, especially seeing the kids. I think it was only going back that made me realize how far I had come as a teacher and a person those three years. The small community is sleepy and quiet but runs deep in compassion, selflessness and service. As I drove down into the flood ravaged valley for the first time I saw a spray painted sign at the end of a driveway that read, “Good things happen here.” A little farther down the road there sits a mud smeared farmhouse (the residents lost everything and all their dairy cows as well). On the porch a lighted nativity scene nestled in hay is a reminder to the community that the joy of Christmas comes even in the midst of tragedy.
Eli and I visited the kids I had taught in past. One conversation went like this:
Student #1: “He (Eli) looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.”
Student #2: “Yeah, except for he’s not a turtle and he’s not green.”
Student #1: “Then maybe a green goblin.”
Student #2: “Yeah.”
I also attended the Christmas concert that night. Yes, they still call it a Christmas concert. Like always, the whole community turns out for the concert, whether they have kids or not. They seemed unfazed by the news cameras that showed up.
Anyway, I’m not trying to say that there is anything perfect about this community. But they got it right this time. I’m sure there is a fair amount of complaining and capitalizing on tragedy. The good far outweighs the bad though. I’m not going to try and moralize anything here, except to say that it was good for my heart.
I walked outside this morning to a fresh wet rain and the sight of the neighbor boy trapsing off to school, complete with new backpack, shoes and haircut. His happens to be a mowhawk. I had almost let myself forget that most everyone will be starting school today, except for me. I have been “going” to school since I was five, either learning or teaching. I adore school. I found myself getting my pre-firstdayofschool haircut out of habit…
Am I really letting myself go cold turkey from school addiction? No. I am auditing a class at Multnomah, my alma mater. Alumni get one free audit per year. I am absolutely loving it.
I would not trade staying at home with my Eli for all the school in the world, but today,on the first day of school, I can’t help but remember my good friend Rosie, who is taking over my classroom, and all those fresh, freaked out faces, and the absolute chaos that is the first day of school. I know this is the right thing to do because God has given me an absolute peace about being a mom. It’s the first time since I was FIVE that I haven’t gone back to school and I’m OK with it? That can only be God.