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OK, so I had a very busy and crazy week and I was saving up all the stories so I could tell you about them and my miserable life and you could laugh and help me to remember that my life really isn't miserable after all. And then Friday happened...
I was going to tell you how my neighbors teased and tortured me with the stupid gingerbread man ornament until it sort of ~ kind of ~ got "accidentally" broken. And how I insisted that it had to be thrown away in multiple trash bags so that the parts couldn't grow back together.
I was going to tell you about how thanks to a busted heat valve I had no hot water for two days and how if you smelled something ~ it was probably me cause I was only washing the essentials.
I was going to tell you about how Orange Croc Guy flew out of town one day and how What If Guy guy flew in the next.
I was going to tell you about my stupid email account and how I really need to cancel it and set up another one because this one has gone crazy and won't let me delete anything. And how I probably won't cancel it and set up another one because of the time and effort that goes into changing my email address everywhere and letting people know that it's been changed. And how I would rather just deal with the undeleted deleted emails than go through all of that.
I was going to tell you about how I put together 18 "Snowman Soup" gifts for my class with these special candy canes that are shaped like spoons. And how those stupid spoons cost me over $20, but that it's OK because I think I'm in love with them. And do you think that I'm weird because I'm in love with a candy cane spoon? I mean...I don't want to marry it or anything. I just love it.
I was going to tell you about how there is this one girl in my class who sings the Star Spangled Banner every morning as it's played over the morning announcements. And how she sings VERY loudly to a beat that only she can hear. And how none of the words she sings are actually in the Star Spangled Banner. And how some mornings it's almost more than I can take and I want to tell her that, "It's OK, you don't have to sing." And how I don't actually tell her that because, who knows, she may grow up and become a famous singer someday. And how I don't want to be sitting in an island tiki hut or an old folks home or wherever I end up, watching her on TV and listening as she talks about the Kindergarten teacher who told her not to sing and know that I'm THAT Kindergarten teacher.
I was going to tell you about the little girl who brought in chocolate coins and dreidles to teach us how to play the dreidle game. And how every time the dreidle stopped spinning and I asked her, "OK, what does that mean?" she just shrugged her shoulders and said, "I don't know."
I was going to tell you about how making lessons plans for this week consisted of figuring out how much fun we could have while tricking the principal into thinking that we were actually working.
I was going to tell you about the little boy who announced that he didn't like Santa Claus. And how I tried to figure out if he celebrated Christmas by naming every religion and place of worship I could think of. And how he said that he wasn't any of those things and didn't go to any of those places. And how I was pretty sure I knew what religion he was based on his home country and the traditional attire his mother wears, but how I was afraid to make assumptions. And how I asked his older sister about what holiday they celebrated and how after looking around to see who was near by she whispered, "Have you ever heard of Muslim?" And how sad it made me that she felt the need to whisper about her family's religion when we live in a country where we are supposed to know and have freedom of religion.
I was going to tell you about the group of fifth grade girls who visit my room every morning even though I constantly remind them that they aren't in Kindergarten and shouldn't be in our building. And how it secretly makes me happy that they visit.
I was going to tell you about the visit I got from Sebastian and how he once again proudly asked, "Do you know how old I am?" because he forgets that he reminds me that he turned 6 in June every time I see him. And how when I asked about his surgery he said, "I'm not scared. I'm not even a little bit scared." And how I teared up at his bravery and wished I could have just an ounce of his courage.
I was going to tell you about The Mangrove Man who came to school and how I know he has a real name, but I can't remember it so he will always be The Mangrove Man to me. And how my students watched him without making a single sound as he set up the seeds we'll observe and take care of for the next three months. And how he cleaned the windows in my room and how we watched him lick the back of several suction cups and place them on the cleaned windows before someone actually thought to offer him a cup of water so he wouldn't have to lick them any more. And how I invited him to stay for the rest of the day and to visit any time he wanted because he washed windows and my students were quiet when he was in the room.
I was going to tell you about the teacher who came to my room to borrow a book and how I had to ask my students where I left it because I couldn't remember. And how they told me I had let another teacher borrow it and laughed because I couldn't remember. And how the teacher who wanted to borrow the book said that she wasn't going to waste her time asking me questions any more since my kids know more than I do.
I was going to tell you about the Christmas presents my students are making for their parents and how they're a pain in the neck to make and how they're all lopsided and barely held together with Elmer's glue, but they are still beautiful.
I was going to tell you about the boy who gave me a rhinestone necklace and about the smile that covered his face as I wore it and showed off the "diamond" he had given me.
I was going to tell you about how every time I'm with my class and we see a picture or decoration of Santa Claus I tell it that, "I've been good!" And about the little girl in my class who constantly says, "Ms. Brown, you need to stop because Santa Claus knows that you aren't really six!"
I was going to tell you about how happy I am that I've made it this far into December and for the first time in more years than I can remember haven't had to deal with that one cynical kid who announces that there is no Santa Claus.
I was going to tell you about how my principal came bounding down the hall and declared, "Ms. Brown, I have something to show you and it's going to make you like me....at least for a couple days." And how I assured him that, "It's Friday. I always like you on the weekends...you know, when I don't actually have to see you." And how he and I must have looked like children ourselves as we stood by the sink and added water to this "magic powder" in order to make snow. And how he then ran back to his office to order enough "magic powder" for every child in Kindergarten to make some snow of their own.
I was going to tell you about all of these things and more. I was even planning the posts in my mind, but then Friday happened and we were still at school as we slowly started getting bits of information about Connecticut and the school and the shooting and the children and the teachers and the families and the rescuers and even the shooter himself.
The information we received mostly came from someone who heard something from someone else and not everything we heard was accurate. Each new report brought a higher casualty rate and as teachers we all fought back tears. We fought back tears and wondered , "What if..."
What if it happened here? What if it happened to us?
What if there were no more visits from former students? No more dreidle games? No more rhinestone necklaces? No more out of tune songs? No more presents that are made mostly of glue? No more candy cane shaped spoons? What if...
After school I talked to parents who came to pick up their children and listened as they said it was hard not to pick up their children early because all day long they had just wanted to hug them. I listened and held back the tears because there were no words.
Friday night, after going out to dinner, What If Guy and I joined my neighbors for drinks. The guys separated into one corner of the room to discuss sports and other guy things. The girls settled around the TV to watch 48 hours and learn the latest news. It wasn't until the guys slowly and silently rejoined us and placed arms around our shoulders or over our hands that I realized most of us were silently crying as we watched the names of the children who had been killed flash across the TV screen. We were all silent because there were no words.
I've spent the weekend listening as my wonderful, close-knit and yet totally eclectic group of friends started to divide into two groups ~ those that believe we need more gun laws to prevent these things and those that believe we need more guns so that innocent people can protect themselves. I've listened while wanting to simultaneously slap them for turning this into a political argument and hug them just because they are my friends and I can.
I've listened as people have declared the need for prayer in school. As a teacher, I can promise you that there was plenty of prayer in schools all across the country on Friday. They may have been whispered quietly, but quiet prayers are powerful too. Quiet prayers are still heard by The One who needs to hear them.
I've read the Facebook posts and Twitter feeds and I've commented on very few of them and "liked" even less. I haven't commented much because there are just no words.
I have asked myself repeatedly, "What can I do?" and sadly no answer has been forthcoming.
I did manage to get out of bed in time to go to church today. If you knew me better and how I like to sleep in on Sunday mornings and how I am often referred to as a C & E Christian ~ one who goes to church on Christmas and Easter ~ you would have a better understanding of how deeply effected I am by all of this. From the number of people present today, it was obvious that I am far from the only one who felt the need to attend services.
Perhaps 1 Corinthian 12:26 says it best, "If one member suffers, all suffer together..."
Friday happened and we have all felt the pain and there are no words...
It is almost midnight now and in about 20 hours I will gather with my friends for one more Christmas get together before more of us head out of town. There will be dinner and drinks and present exchanges and I am sure there will be more discussion about Friday and prayer and gun laws. I am sure that my friends will all still stand firmly to their different beliefs, but it won't matter. It won't matter because we are all alive and well and together.
It is almost midnight now and in about 8 hours I will greet my Kindergarten students for the final week of school before winter break. Many of them will have been spared from the news of Friday, but others will have seen or heard things that no Kindergarten student should ever have to see or hear. I will do my best to continue to shield the ones that have been spared and comfort and reassure the others. I promise you, that there will be more quietly whispered prayers in school on Monday.
It is almost midnight and in about 8 hours I will also be faced with parents who are concerned about their children and their safety. I hope that I find the words to tell them that I will continue to wear the rhinestone necklaces and listen to their singing and praise the lopsided glued together presents they make and accept their different beliefs and insist that I am six years old and have been very good this year. But most importantly, I hope I find the words to let them know that with everything I have and everything I am; I will protect their children.