I Hope You Washed Your Hands!
When a child gives you a gift, even if it is a rock they just picked up, exude gratitude. it may be the only thing they have to give, and they have chosen to give it to you.
― Dean Jackson
I rarely get grossed out.
If a child finds a spider, I'll pick it up, so they'll all stop screaming.
If someone claims they might puke, you would be horrified to see me automatically cup my hands to catch it.
I wipe snot with my fingers, eat a cookie that drops to the floor, put on band-aids without rubber gloves, and love loose teeth (my record is nine pulled in one day). My dentist claims that I'm "practicing without a license," but I told him it's part of my job, especially when the parents let them hang there flapping in the wind.
I receive hugs from children who just coughed on their hands, let them climb in my lap with their grubby capris after recess, and can usually identify a lost coat by smelling it, as each of my students has their own smells. If they bring me a snack, I will eat it in front of them.
Used perfume? I'll put it on, and I've had a headache to prove it, too. I've received gifts of:
half-eaten candy bars
a crusty cupcake,
old lip-liners they probably took from home
colored menus from restaurants
the beaded candy cane we made in class three months prior
cherished stuffed animals
and occasionally, my classroom materials were stolen and then gifted back to me.
The pictures are always drawn with care and usually spell my name in various degrees of fluency.
Love notes contain fractions of my name, often mixed with theirs and any sight words they have mastered with messages like,
"I love mom…Mrs. Edwards purdy."
If we have recently studied penguins, apples, pumpkins, or triangles, they will also appear on the love notes, as they are proud of their abilities.
"You are my bestest teacher ever!" Bree proclaims to me.
"I'm the only teacher you've had," I say.
"But, you're pretty" is the reply I get. Ummm, thanks?
Love messages come in all shapes and forms.
This year, I have a little boy who has decided he is in love with me. I cannot escape his gaze, and he is always keenly aware of where I am at any given moment. At first, I thought it was because he was highly anxious, but he will look at me until I catch his eye, and then after I wink at him, he will return to his work. We need to talk soon, as he will be heartbroken when he understands that he will have to share me with my husband.
Simple things are beautiful.
Our classroom becomes a safe place to make mistakes and ask hard questions—a neighborhood celebrating simple gifts like dandelions, stickers, and gummy bears.
Full of imperfect, occasionally stinky people doing learning the best way we can.
A true gift.