Last week was my last day of grad school. Today was kindergarten graduation for my sprouts. Things are changing and coming to an end, and to be honest, I've been in such a swirl of last minute to-do lists, that I haven't really had time to sit down and reflect.
This morning, I got to watch my kiddos onstage. It was the first time that we had tried to do a music show and graduation with ALL the kindergarteners, and I have to say, they were fantastic. They came dressed up, gelled down, and extra-obedient. Some of my rowdy kiddos were downright solemn. It was nearly miraculous. After the ceremony, my toughest student today sidled up to me. This was a boy that cut people with scissors, had problems nearly everywhere he went, and made me want to cry on more than one occasion. But then, he stopped me in my tracks today for something good. He gave me this:
Something about the bamboo heart, from a boy who just yesterday had drawn a monster in his kindergarten memory book when asked to draw a picture of me (little hilarious jerk) made me pause. To me, it meant that deep down even if he couldn't say it, he wanted me to know he cares. He loves me. He even picked it out for me all by himself.
This year was a hard year in lots of ways for me. I fought some battles, won some, lost some. I chose to move on from a group of people that love and support me, knowing something better had to be out there. I hit rock bottom and came back up. But I also got straight As in grad school, taught my kiddos to read and write, learned to find wells of strength and dignity I didn't know I possessed, and was shown how many people believe in me and in what I do for students.
With one action today, my rowdy punk changed the way I'll remember him. I'm not going to remember the times he sneezed on me, or kicked other students, or looked at me and said "no, I'm not doing that." Instead, he'll be the boy with the bamboo, who reminded me that the kids who need the most patience from you are often the ones that you end up making the biggest impact on.
I hope as I "graduate" my current school, that people remember me similarly. I know I demanded a lot of patience from people at times, just as I gave infinite amounts to the naysayers at my school. When it comes right down to it, however, I hope people remember me as somebody with a big heart.
Maybe graduation isn't just for kindergarteners after all :)