Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I woke up today with a headache. A real eye-slicer - right above the brows.
I was in the kind of bad mood that no number of diet cokes can cure. I had to be at school by 7:15 for morning duty so I could be the quiet police for the kids that eat breakfast in the cafeteria. My backpack was so heavy with papers to grade that I was hunched over like Quasimodo. I had slept with my hair wet and the flat iron only made the pieces sticking out look like tree branches. I felt thrown-together. Rushed. Ready for a nap as soon as my eyes opened.
Well, the first ray of sunshine hit me at about 9:00. We were practicing math problems on our white boards. Before I could make it back to the front of my room, one of the little girls in my class, Eboni, raises her whiteboard to let me see what she had written. It said "LOVE YOU MOM!" (She always calls me Mom. She tells me it's because "We's a family. You's our Mom and we's yo kids.") The clouds of my bad mood parted and my heart felt all melty like a hershey kiss that's been in your pocket.
The second ray of sunshine hit me as we went down the stairs to P.E. "You look so glamorous today, Ms. G," said Harriet. "She looks glamorous every day," said Sydney. Even with sticky-up tree hair, my girls think I'm glamorous. My heart was now more like chocolate fondue.
And then at lunch, all the clouds parted and my students' sunshine thawed out my bad mood completely. Bettye Sue began to tell me about a book she is reading called "Out of My Mind." It's about a girl that is completely paralyzed. "She can't talk or move or anything," Bettye Sue said. "So everyone thinks she's retarded. But she's like the smartest person in the world! Then this other girl comes along to help her. Her name is Katherine. When I'm reading I totally picture you when it talks about Katherine. She's so sweet and helps everyone just like you." That did it. My heart was a steaming mug of hot cocoa, warming me up from the inside, melting the headache and worries that had plagued me since 6:00 a.m.
My students are incredible. They give me hugs every day. They shower me with compliments. They laugh at my corny jokes and sit attentively for my stories. They clap for my writing and silly dance moves. They sing with me on Fridays. They get me diet cokes from the refrigerator in the break room. They write me sweet notes. They would do anything to make me proud.
Now I know: My students are my sunshine.