Tuesday, May 24, 2011

As Yet Untitled

Our dog died.

But this post doesn't begin there.

I foresee it being more like keyboard vomit about all of the things rolling around in my head over the last month or so.

I was honored after spring break to be named the Academic Coordinator at Greens Prairie Elementary beginning this fall. It's a brand new campus -- not even finished yet -- and I get to be there to get it going. I've worked so hard in grad school, and to be awarded with a job so soon has left me overjoyed. And the more I learn about my new school and the fantastic staff, the more excited I get.

I have only worked at one school. Eight years. One of my kids was practically born there. I know all the nooks and crannies, people to bug to get anything and everything accomplished, and the ins and outs of the English department -- the good and the bad and the details. I know what I'm doing.

For my new job, I make lists. Mostly lists of words or programs or authors or books that elementary people use in casual conversation, but I have no idea what they are talking about. Google is my new best friend.

My real best friends are at my school. Not just my best friends, but the best friends I've ever had in my life. Never have I been around such a large number of people at once who "get" me.  I like books a little too much to be normal, I randomly cry about absolutely nothing, and I'm addicted to my work email. Besides my husband and maybe my parents (I have to deduct points for them because I'm sure I scared the hell out of them when I was an angsty teenager), these people get me more than anyone, ever. They think it's funny to refill my wine glass when I'm not looking and they recognize when I need someone to just agree with me even when I'm dead wrong.

I've now met most of the teachers at my new school, and they are incredibly nice and great fun, and tonight they even promised to read books and talk about them with me. It's an all star cast at Greens Prairie, and being a part of that is more than I could ever ask for.

So I live here on the threshold between what is and what will be, and I happily and sadly walk forward, growing more excited with every step.

All the while grading, grading, grading, and doing homework, homework, homework.

On Friday, my second period crazies threw me a surprise party. They had been talking about it in front of me all week, and I almost took up the sign up sheet for snacks one day until I realized that's what it was. Second period is a group of very different kids -- some who have everything and some who have nothing -- and they have been a challenge this year. On Friday they all came together to wish me well and literally tell me they loved me. It was a beautiful moment.

At the beginning of seventh period that day, I learned that some colleagues, one a principal and one a teacher, lost their son. She went into labor at 24 weeks, and their precious baby lived for 55 minutes before he returned right back to heaven. I cannot imagine a deeper heartbreak than that.

On Saturday, Tucker hit his very first home run. It was epic. There is nothing more fantastic than an eight year old home run.

Today, my last day of regular classes, my sixth period paid tribute to my years of teaching. Five minutes before the bell they all ascended to the tops of their desks and recited "O Captain, My Captain!" -- just like Dead Poet's Society. It was both cheese-tastic and moving. They are a brilliant group who often cause me great frustration with their constant questioning and lack of confidence, and I admit I was surprised that they care I'm leaving the school.

Seventh period came into class grumbling, no doubt in tones they believed to be unhearable by teacher ears. Sixth period had stolen their schtick, and they had to come up with something bigger and better on the fly. About ten minutes before the end of class, one girl approached my desk and said, "Mrs. Hickman. Do you think you could...um...like...go to the bathroom for like...five minutes?"

"Funny you mention that," I replied. "I was just thinking about how I have to go to the bathroom, and it will likely take me about five minutes."

I returned exactly five minutes later to find them standing on desks, announcing "O Captain, My Captain!" Only they had made a half circle with the desks and each held one letter of the poem title, and they had written their own original poem for me that a representative read. Interestingly enough, there was exactly one letter of the poem title for each of my 17 kids. I've said all year that I couldn't have picked a better class to have as my last class for this portion of my career, and they certainly did not disappoint. The number thing just cemented it.

After school I went to a meeting, then to Half Price Books to pick up a book for our book exchange tomorrow,  then to Schlotsky's to get a pizza for dinner. I came home to find Trey and his dad standing in our kitchen. Isabelle the Chihuahua and reigning Queen of the Hickman Hacienda, was found lying peacefully on our back porch when Trey came home. When we first married, I miscarried. Then we got Isabelle. When the boys were babies, she would sit in the doorway to the nursery as if she were standing guard. She was a good dog.

And so it goes. Good and bad. Grief and wonder. Past and future.

I am certainly blessed beyond measure, a recipient of unmerited favor.

I may also need a stiff drink.


E-Wok said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E-Wok said...

You are the only person I actually know who can make me laugh and cry simultaneously...or at least alternatingly. (Google tells me that's not a word, but I know better.) I miss you and being in your department, and I can tell you that I am, and always have been, amazed by your ability to lead, to parent, to teach, and to inspire, and I know your new folks will get that about you too! (I removed my first comment because of a comma omission.)