I am having a sad day. I miss my friends. I miss my students and my basketball players. I miss knowing where everything is, and having people to call when I’m bored, and being able to hike at a moment’s notice. I miss the puppies flopping on the floor and licking my toes (even when I don’t really want them to and try to shake them off). It doesn’t help that my ankle is all messed up right now so I can’t even go for a walk or explore my new neighborhood or try to figure out where the heck everything is.
I miss teaching. I miss having students who come in every day with new challenges and excitement. I miss planning things I know they’ll like, and I miss seeing them light up when they get something. I miss all the little voices in the hallway saying, “Hi Ms. EMinNM!” every time I walk by, and I miss being able to pop next door and find my best friend hiding in her blue chair, in the dark so no one will know she is there and bother her (I always knew, and always bothered her, but she didn’t mind because I’m her little sister-friend).
There are a lot of things I don’t miss. I don’t miss staff meetings, or colleagues who don’t actually like children. I don’t miss the incredibly hard standardized tests or the bureaucratic minutiae that make them so much harder and more miserable than they have to be. I don’t miss being the person who has to inflict those tests on children. I am excited to be in a place where people THINK about things just because that is what you do, and I don’t miss the blind acceptance of thinking what some undefinable “they” told you to do is always the right choice. I don’t miss the feelings of overwhelming helplessness at another sad story, another child being hurt or neglected, another situation that no one can solve.
Except those last feelings, the ones of helplessness? I don’t miss them because they didn’t go away. It’s not like all those problems left Gallup when I did. Half of my kids don’t have a real teacher this year, because our principal didn’t look into hiring anyone until 2 weeks before the school year started, at which point there was no one to be found. They have a long term sub, who is apparently managing their behavior well but not really teaching much.
Those are my kids, and I left, and now they don’t have a teacher.
The mom of two of my former students passed away this weekend. I still remember when her son was in my class and he used to cry about how much he missed her. When we talked about what we were thankful for at Thanksgiving, he said he was thankful for her, even though she wasn’t there. When she came back, having been gone several years, he was so proud to get to introduce her to me. He must be devastated right now.
The thing is, you don’t stop caring about people, and you don’t stop loving them and worrying about them just because you move away. It’s not like I could solve any of these problems when I was there, either. But I was there. I could go pick up my kid with an awful home life when he said he just needed to get out of the house. I could feed my kids when I knew they didn’t have food in their house. I could talk to my students about parents who drink, and how it’s OK to feel sad when bad things happen. I could hug them when they needed it. I wasn’t solving any of the problems long term, but I was there for them and I was doing the best I could.
Now I’m not. But my kids, and my friends, and the people who have become like family to me, they are still there. The problems are still there, and they probably will always be there. It’s breaking my heart that I’m not there too.