Friday, October 17, 2008


Tonight the boys were playing football in the living room. Keaton was the Aggies and Tucker was Nebraska. They were having a great time even though Keaton needed frequent time outs to just sit down on the fireplace or whatever. Eventually I was named the coach of the Aggies so that I could dictate the length of Keaton's time outs. So when he needed a break I called from the kitchen for a 30 second time out, to which Keaton replied, "No, I think I need five minutes." This, of course, launched Tucker into a detailed explanation about how 5 minute time outs do not exist and that Keaton needed to rest quickly so he could get back in the game. Both boys started calling me "Coach," and it was all fairly entertaining.

A little while later, Keaton, in his toughest, deepest football player voice, boomed at me from the living room. "Coach! I need to go to the potty. Can you turn the light on, Coach?" Being the exceptional coach that I am, I turned on the bathroom light.

A few minutes later he called from the bathroom, "COOOAAAACCHHH!!!!"

When he could see me coming, the deep, manly voice returned, this time accompanied by a very stern and serious face. "Coach. I need you to wipe my bottom."

I bet the real Aggie coach never gets that.

I don't know what's more awkward - the fact that my sons called me coach all night or the fact that I just typed the words "wipe my bottom." Hmmmm.

It's been an evening of wonderful family fun here. The boys played and colored and danced. Tucker made us all take turns being "Fabulous Falcons" (Falcons are his school's mascot), and he gave us each a plaque-like something to commemorate our ability to "use kind words and kind touches and no put-downs and take care of our things." We just enjoyed each other.

Why is this significant? This week our school lost a student in a car accident. She was 16. I didn't know her, and I can only imagine in the darkest places of my heart the pain that her family, friends, and teachers must be going through. Certainly my own children have always been precious to me, but times such as these help us all to cherish every little moment we can share.

Then I think about my students. When I read that a Consol student had been killed, my immediate reaction was to start calling all of my kids one by one to make sure they were safe. That would be the work of a crazy lady, and I earn that title well enough without creating additional evidence during a time of tragedy. So I just waited. It was about two hours before the young girl's name was released, and the empathetic grief I felt was overshadowed by the guilty relief that it wasn't one of mine. It's hard to admit, but it's true.

As teachers, we get to take other people's children and love them like our own for a short time. Then they go away. The plan all along is that at some point they go away. Of course, they go on to things bigger and better than high school. They go on to change the world and hopefully remember the years they spent with us fondly, or at least as not too painful. This tragic event makes me want to hold on to them a little bit longer.

In May, some really great kids are going to be leaving me - some of the best students I have known in my teaching career. I know we'll keep in touch and I'll hear from their parents about all of their accomplishments and I'll likely vote for one of them for president one day. However, the mere mention of the fact that they're seniors still produces a knot in my throat.

This week I remembered how very blessed I will be on graduation day to get to watch them leave.

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