I get two years with them. I know what they love, where they make mistakes, how many nicknames they’ve had, whether or not they’ll remember to put on sunscreen, what their handwriting looks like, what they want to be when they grow up (for now), who has a sense of humor and which ones are the artists and which ones will chew on the furniture (yeah, really), where they’re going on family vacations, the names of their new baby brothers and sisters, who is most likely to trip over their own feet and who will volunteer to help said tripper to the office afterward. I know what they’re good at and where they need to grow and I catch glimmers of who they someday might be.
I am still surprised by them and how they change but after two years, they know all my jokes and tricks. They want someone new, with new ways to surprise them and challenge them and teach them. They’re SO done with 5th grade and really, I’m SO done with them. Except that on that last day, that very last day, it’s like trying to blow as much wind into their sails as possible, to give them every last little bit of hope and skill to sail on and then finding that it’s difficult to breath back in.
Because they’re not mine, all these fascinating, goofy, kind and knowledge hungry human beings. I have no claim or tether on them. They’re somebody else’s kids; I’m just the teacher.