Today was the last day of scool.
After the flurry of handing out report cards and gathering up all remaining belongings, my kids were all lined up at the door. Their hands full, chattering excitedly, they counted the few remaining moments before the bell rang, signalling their long-awaited release to freedom.
As the bell rang, cheers echoed down the hallway. "I love hugs!" I told them. "If anyone wants a hug, I'll be happy to give them!"
"Bye Miss Hillary!" "Thanks for teaching us!" "Have a good summer!" "See you next year!" "We'll come and visit you in your new classroom!" "I'll miss you!"
For maybe two minutes, my world was a flurry of goodbyes, well wishes, hugs, and thank yous. I waved at them as they made their way down the stairs and outside, and after the last student disappeared from my view, I turned around and looked back into my classroom.
The bulletin boards are down, the desks are empty, and the cloakroom is bare - save a few forgotten items: an umbrella, an unclaimed hood from a winter jacket, the odd pencil and scrap of paper. The recycle bins are overflowing with paper - work the kids just couldn't wait to forget - and my desk is a disaster - all part of the packing up process. Remnants from our year end party are scattered everywhere, despite my best efforts at getting everything in the garbage bags. But the biggest thing I notice is that the room is quiet. It is every day around this time, but this time it's a different kind of quiet... my kidlets aren't coming back.
Just like that - *poof!* - they're gone.
That was when the tears came.
It's over. It's time to let them go. My kidlets have definitely left their mark on me, and I'm gonna miss them.
One girl who I've secretly nicknamed "the little ray of sunshine" came back up the stairs as I was trying to compose myself. "Miss Hillary, I forgot to give you this!" She had a flowering plant for me.
"Thank you for teaching me!"
"You're welcome sweetie! It was my pleasure!" I sheepshly grinned and pointed to my face. "Ha! Look at me! I'm gonna miss you guys!"
Seeing my tears, she came over and gave me a great big hug.
These kids, I tell you. They get me every. single. time.