Bittersweet

As I dejectedly sipped a beer tonight, I told some friends about the blog post I wrote one year ago, entitled “I don’t like these ones“.

I resented those children. They replaced my little angels from the year before, and I wasn’t happy about it. They were noisy and unruly and impossible to teach. They wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t speak English, and wouldn’t stay in their seats. “I was so frustrated and exhausted that I gave up on trying to teach them, and just wrote the answer up on the board for them to copy down,” I said to Alex one lunch time, trying not to weep into my soup. “And they STILL got it wrong!”

I was so sad that my beloved classes had been replaced by these children whose specific aim in life seemed to be to piss me off. I’d cried at the graduation ceremony, and couldn’t imagine ever taking to these new students like I had to my old ones. A reader commented on my post, one year ago today: What state are you going to be in next year, when it’s your turn to leave….?

Well, as it turned out, I don’t have to leave after all, and I have another year to enjoy doing this job that I love so much. But the really surprising part is that my sorrow from last year was nothing compared to how I feel right now. I actually find myself likening my feelings to “The Sad” I felt after the breakup. Of course, I don’t have any of the destructive negative feelings like hurt and anger that went along with that, so I know I’ll be right as rain after a brief period of grief, but at the moment I honestly feel the kind of raw emotion that makes you want to curl up and cry your eyes out whilst listening to sad songs and eating only chocolate and ice cream!

Last year, the children didn’t show any emotion when they left – but this year, several of them started to cry during the “Goodbye, teacher” song. Oh, it was horrendous. Torture. And of course there we are, teachers all lined up on the stage staring desperately at the back wall in a furious attempt to hold back the tears as the kids sing to us. At least four of us failed miserably, and cried right there on the stage, in front of the audience of proud parents and sad children.

I know it’s wrong to have favourites, but I always do, much as I try to ensure that it doesn’t show in class. There were 5 girls this year with whom I formed a real bond. I love them with all my heart. They are bright, enthusiastic, positive, and so friendly that you can’t help but smile when you see them. They’d come into my classroom if they were passing, just to say hello or show me what they’d made in their science class, or tell me about their plans for the weekend. I read that post from a year ago and find it almost impossible to believe that I didn’t always adore them.

After the ceremony, my favourite little girl came flying out of the hall, dropped her diploma on the floor, and flung herself at me with such force that I nearly fell backwards, barely having time to crouch down to catch her. And she howled. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a child I really care about in so much distress before, and it broke my heart. So we cried together. And then her mother came along to try and coax her to leave, and she was crying as well. It was both horrible, and beautiful. Horrible to see a child so upset, and to be saying goodbye to one that I’ve come to love as if she’s my own. Beautiful to know that she loves me as much as I love her, and that my job involves so much more than just earning a living.

I don’t know who grabbed my camera and took this photograph, but I will treasure it for the rest of my life.

And now (as I can no longer see the screen for the tears – this is ridiculous), onwards! To the new school year and the new lot who’ll no doubt drive me mad for a while before putting me hopelessly under their spell…

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6 thoughts on “Bittersweet

  1. Such a lovely post and what a truly beautiful and touching photo!!

    Get all those tears out, steel yourself up for the next group and onwards to more wonderful experiences :)

  2. Nelly says:

    Oh! I love that picture. What you must be giving those children. And, superficial I know, you look so skinny in that shot! Shoot me, I’m an airhead!

  3. Oh Hails, you nearly had me in floods of tears as well. As sad as it is to say goodbye to people you love and feel all those emotions it is truly a lucky thing to experience such a bond with your pupils.

    And the photo is amazing the way the light floats around you both. Beautiful.

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