With the school year coming to a close, it is my most dreaded time of the year as an educator. While I look forward to summer break, our vacation, teaching summer school, reading, planning for the next school year, and the new adventure as foster parents, I dread these last few days of school.
Yesterday was round one of goodbyes. Two of my students have spent the last half of the school year transitioning to what will be their careers. I like to call this a slow fade. They first started with two days a week and ended the year with four days a week with us only seeing them on Mondays. I was okay with it because I still got to see their bright and shiny faces once a week. Yesterday however, was a day that I had dreaded. It was their last day in high school… forever!
A small celebration to mark this occasion, a simple cake, a year in review video that I had made for the students, would bring their last day full circle. As an educator, I often feel that the line between educator and care giver (while at school) blurs, at least for me. I always hope that, without stepping on toes, my parents know their children are in good hands when they are in my classroom. I love them and allow each one of them to hold a special place in my heart. I don’t say this because I am doing anything special, but I love my students as I would my own children and my husband knows very well how each of them become part of our family.
As the end of the day approached and friends were saying their goodbyes, I waited quietly for my turn. I didn’t really care to have this moment, because I knew that it meant I would more than likely not see them often if at all. A few pictures and hugs lead to a mass amount of tears for me. I said my goodbyes and wished them the best that life had to offer. I also did something I hadn’t done all year, I followed my one student out of the room to watch him walk away and get on his bus. He was as happy and joyful as the day we had met. His worst days are often our best days and I do not believe he has ever had a bad day in his life. He reminded me and taught me to always find the good in everything in life and that he was in fact “the best kid in the world.”
Walking back into the room, my face flooded with tears, I sobbed as I had to say goodbye. My aid was waiting when I returned and her face was full of tears as well. We talked for a moment about the kids and how hard it was to say goodbye. She had mentioned that she did not know how my husband and I were going to do it with foster children. It was something that we have talked about before, but it really hit me hard that this was going to be a reality.
How are we going to invest in the children brought into our home and then say goodbye. How will we “survive” that heartache and know we may never see them again? Year after year, I do this at school. You see, as a special education teacher, I often have the honor and privilege of having my students more than a year. For some, I have watched them grow over a course of six years, and others for only a moment. One both sides, I have found it hard to say goodbye and often think of them and the lessons they have taught me.
No matter what is to come, I know there will be days that are going to be difficult to handle. These are the moments I truly believe you absolutely cannot prepare for at any level. There will be goodbyes and they will leave, but I also know that God never gives you more than you can bear. He also promised it would not be easy, and I believe it will be worth it.
Psalms 30:5 …Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes with the morning.