Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Last Day of School

If  you are in the proximity of a school child today,
you cannot help but know that school is either out or should be, depending on which school you are talking about.  And, it you are in the proximity of a school teacher, you probably are making an effort not to be today: we glow on the first day off, and it can be a little annoying to the rest of the world, for whom Monday will be business as usual. We are alive with the possibilities of summer and all it may hold. We may have a fat check in our hands that we vow we will not piss away by the end of July, leaving us penniless and counting the days to the first paycheck in September.) We may be feeling some sadness, saying goodbye to certain kids who burrowed into our hearts especially deep.  We may be pushing aside the nagging reminder that our rooms need to be packed up and report cards marked.  We may, as I am, be slightly nauseous from a last-week diet that was a little too carb-rich and veggie-light.  (In the teacher's lounge on Thursday: two  boxes of donuts, a box of bagels and cream cheese, a huge sheet cake from a family saying, "Thanks Waukazoo Family", that was out of this world, a crock pot of overcooked veggie chili (my contribution) and lime-flavored tortilla chips.)  
But, understand this: we are glowing anyway, as we throw out the produce in the fridge that we bought with good intentions, as we clean out boxes of end of the year gifts, the best ones hand-made, and re-read heartfelt letters smudged and misspelled so endearingly ("Thank you for making me hapy. Love, Thomas"), as we clear off the kitchen table and throw in the laundry and go to Lowe's to get serious about the lawn.
Yesterday was a half-day, and as always there was so much to do. There is a sense for me on that day that I need to be ready for anything, and of course I never am ready for what actually happens.  I did pretty well in passing back gobs of artwork (cursing myself for procrastinating), 
saying goodbye to kids, getting started on room clean-up, chatting with friends (and fitting in several cake-trips to the lounge).  Then, at about  11:00, one of my first graders named Jaden came in and asked me about his clay fish. The one he had to make a week late, because he was sick. The one that had lots of very sharp teeth and  a long remember, right, Mrs. Art?
(Fish? there is still a fish that hasn't swum home yet?) Then, I remember, and there he is, sitting on the edge of the kiln, ready to go. Jaden and I put together a tray of paints and brushes and he sets off for his classroom to paint his fish. All seems well. Phew, I think, I am glad the little guy remembered!
Then, at 11:40, twenty minutes before the final eruption of joy when the kids run out that door for summer vacation, Jaden returns with his fish. It is in three parts.  Apparently, it was on his desk, and he lifted the top. sending it flying onto the floor. The delicate jaw with its snaggly teeth has broken off, as has the sleek (really, really skinny) tail. 
Quick calculations tell me I can do this, and I plug in the glue gun and examine the pieces.  The jaw and teeth aren't too hard, but the tail is really a challenge; the hot glue leaves a thick line that doesn't allow the two pieces to fit together well, and it takes repeated tries to get it back on. (Jaden: "his tail is very thin so he can swoosh it through  the water and go very fast.")
I get it on, and then he says, oh, here is another piece-it is the tip of the tail." It is now five minutes before the bell. I am sweating and I have glue on my fingers. Nothing like  challenge in the last lap of the marathon.  I glue the tiny piece on and the whole tail falls off.
Somehow, the tail gets glued back on and Jaden hugs me and says goodbye. He walks out the door with his ferocious fish and now, only now, do I feel like school is really out.
Love and gratitude to all teachers out there. 


Carrie said...

I'm smiling, as I shared your end of the day Friday - only I forgot to remove nametags from desks and lockers, and had a last minute birthday treat that took too long to pass out... I too was sweating. But now today, am smiling.
Kisses my art friend. Enjoy your summer.

Claudia Hayes Hagar said...

Thanks for sharing your story, too. No one knows just how ridiculous that last day is!
I don't know about you, but it has taken me til just about an hour ago to feel some energy coming back!
You have a great summer, too!