Monday, June 13, 2011

A Very Full Nest

Students who attend The Harrisburg Academy for 13 or more years receive a "survivor" award.

Annie started in 1993 ... thus, by extension, I have just survived 18 years of The Harrisburg Academy ... including: an exhausting 3-year teaching stint that knocked me to my knees; years of PTA/lower school library/classroom volunteering; chaperoning field trips as close by as Hershey Zoo and as far away as Freiburg with Mr. Gutwein et al; countless soccer games with some field hockey thrown in; endless All-School Concerts ... oh, the middle school band, oh, oh, oh; invisibility at events dominated by the ex's posse while I nearly cried wishing my family could see, if only my family could see; States Fairs; Science Fairs; mostly happy and successful but also some scary bad days for each kid; lots of runs with a forgotten sax; crazy years of rescheduling the dentist, the orthodontist, the doctor, to accomodate something much more vital like, err, a French quiz; endless listening on my part to the injustices of the school world; frustrating meetings with certain administrators leaving me feeling the injustices of the school world; poring over yearbooks to find every photo of one of my kids or one of their friends; uproariously funny drama productions including those meant to be serious; and ... and ... and ...

Diese Kinder. Die sind jetzt alle drei Erwachsene. Sie wissen viel mehr Geschichte und Wissenschaft als ihre Mutti, die auch kein Franzoesisch kann. Sie wissen viel mehr als alles, das ich unterrichten kann, das sie von mir gelernt haben koennten.

To the teachers who changed my children's lives: I can never repay you for the loving guidance and inspiration you provided them. You are my heroes as much as you are theirs.

To the students who trusted my home because I tried my best to listen and let live ... thank you for being good friends to my kids. They learned just as much from you as they did inside classrooms. So did I.

Now, in my home, all gussied up for the last of the graduations now concluded (although the cards and awards still litter the piano among the photos of the honored graduate), it's just me and the dog Chuck (and well, the ghost of Pandora as she pussy-foots about hoping to find something remotely edible), and the two crazy cats, Amber and Moony (Princess Whisper Moon ... everyone has a say in the naming in this Garden of Eden ) ...

There is no metaphor boundless enough to contain the joy I feel. This house cannot contain it. I feel like it must be spreading into neighboring galaxies, and yet that doesn't dim the way it shines right here.

My mind is peopled with smiling children with hairstyles from cute little blonde bangs and "pigtails" (yes, on Peter, too), to Sophie's carefully pressed and tamed brunette mane, to Pete's sparkling gray wig from The Miser. On the stage of my mind Annie pirouettes in a black and orange witch costume that made her poison ivy itch. Sophie confidently calls to one of her teammates across the soccer field. Peter tosses his guitar over his shoulders and he and AJ and the others slam across the stage on their knees. Annie sings. Sophie sings. Peter sings. Across the years, their voices harmonize.

These children have composed an opus for me. They've written me a multiple volume history of my own life that I will reread forever.

Thank you, Annie, Sophie, and Peter, for being my children. I couldn't have dreamed you any better than you are.

And now ... to a peaceful night's rest. Be well, knowing that no matter how far away you are ... Brazil, Peru ... or Baltimore ;-) ... you are right here with me. Always. And I'm right there with you.

Onward ... I can't wait to see what you're going to do next. And man oh man am I glad I still have plenty of energy to write a few new chapters of my own.

Because, surprising to us all, although it felt sometimes like we were just surviving, in the end, it turns out, we were all being born.

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