It’s been one week since last Thursday, when my father-in-law passed away.
Now, a little side-note and background about me as a teacher: I RARELY take days off. I have to be extremely sick (read: highly contagious or unable to stand up), out of town, or at a professional development training in order to miss a day with my kids. I don’t like not being there with them. I wish I could say that it’s because I’m 100% dedicated, but I think the reasoning behind my lack of time away from my kids is a combination of the facts that
(1) I have no children,
(2) it’s far more work to be out of the building than it is to be in my classroom (I’m an extremely meticulous and detailed writer of sub plans after having been a sub and seeing, “Do worksheet with sticky-note on top. Please teach about American Revolution. Go to office for help. Sorry no seating charts.” Gee, thanks.), and
(3) I have control issues, and hate coming back to my room when it’s not just so, and
(4) I’m dedicated to the success of my kids, and I believe that I’m a key part of their success, so I don’t want to be gone. This is the core of why all teachers do what we do, so this is easily 90% of why I’m always at school.
But, last Thursday when I got the phone call from my husband that meant I needed to leave school immediately, I didn’t hesitate to GET OUT. My principal and assistant principal came in to cover my class (which speaks volumes of the staff in my building — truly, the best people work in my school), and a fellow teacher covered me at the end of the day. My teammates stepped up on Friday when there was no sub to cover me and taught my kiddos how to find the area of irregular shapes. Amazing.
My kids were super special that day. I got the phone call just at the end of my plan, and needed to be on the phone as the kids were coming into the classroom. After they had all settled down, they could all clearly see that I was rattled and scared. I explained that Mr. K’s father had just passed away, and the hugs and kindness began. One sweet little guy raised his hand (which he just doesn’t do), and then asked, “Would you like us to teacher ourselves today? We can figure it out if you give us the materials.” (If your heart didn’t just grow 3 sizes, a la The Grinch, then I’ve got no words for you. And yes, my eyes brimmed with tears at that moment and I desperately needed a tissue for my booger-y nose, which was handed to me by a different kiddo.) Amazing-er.
Even though my heart aches for my husband and family, I’m feeling incredibly fortunate that I have a career in which I feel supported and loved by my staff and my students.