Friday, June 19, 2009
It's been a full few weeks. Wrapping up the school year. 8th grade promotion. Getting ready for my summer job. And leaving this job behind.
This week has been my "close-out" week, meaning: no kids (more or less, I've actually spent some kid time this week, but no classes). It's just adults cleaning up and organizing our classrooms, closing out student files, running inventory, and preparing our spaces for next school year.
Of course, for me - there is no "next school year." I'm out. Going to China in the Fall, and so I'm not part of this school's future plan. Which is all sorts of crazy.
And so the process has been a slow one for me. I should have been finished yesterday - but it's going to be a push to even be finished by the end of today. So I'm alone in the school, packing up my things, saving the taking-down of kid artwork from my walls for last . . .
And, in the end, it's perfect. Because this job has been all about loose ends and a lack of closure. Kid after kid comes in here, becomes part of my life (and I their's), and we form a relationship. Then - suddenly - they just disappear.
Maybe their family moved to try to get work. Maybe they can't afford to live in town, anymore. Maybe the parents shipped them out to another family member in a different state. Maybe Mom is back, or relapsing, and she drags the kid back down, and they stop showing up. Maybe it's got to do with gang activity. Who knows?
It's literally - one day, the kid is smiling and talking about how they are "finally getting it," and then the next day they're just gone. No goodbye. No warning. Nothing.
And I've learned to get used to that. And so it only seems reasonable that that's how I'm going out (in some respects).
For my goodbye present from my co-workers, I got a piece of artwork (framed) from one of my kids (one who I - obviously - had a close relationship with). It just so happens that he's the same kid that got in a fight outside during our 8th grade promotion ceremony. So - the last time I saw him? As I watched him walk away from our school, pissed off about the fight. No goodbye. Not even close.
The last thing I said to another kid (a girl who never fails to crack me up) was telling her she couldn't come back the next day (because I had just broken up a fight with her and another student). That's how our kids go out. No goodbyes.
They knew I was leaving the last two weeks of school, of course - so I did get to close with a number of kids, but it's the loose ends that stand out right now.
Other staff members? I'm not leaving until September (from Portland), so I've left them with the "I'll see you before I leave for real" knowing it's not true. Maybe I learned that from the kids. Maybe they have taught me that goodbyes are over-rated. People leave. People walk out of our lives. We move on.
Because - for the kids I work with - that's just how it is. And making a big deal out of every loose end is a good way to go crazy. And - let's be honest - we do move on. Every time. Nobody has such an impact on our lives that we literally can't survive without them.
And so I take another lesson from the kids. I'll clean out my room, lock the door, and just turn my back and walk away. No awkward September visit. No lingering. Clean cut. Turn. Walk.
Because where I work - there are no goodbyes. We move on.
And so - for now, at least - I'm not a teacher, anymore.
And that's that.
Posted by CVT at 12:43 PM