I actually started planning my annual Holiday Kick Off party this week. That's right. I'm scheduling out as far as December right now. And frightening enough, it doesn't seem that far away.
Last night was "back to school night" where the parents come in for a little meet and greet. I felt like I was doing stand up comedy. They were a great crowd, and many of them found my sarcasm and self-deprecating jokes to be quite comical. For each group, I introduced myself as Mrs. Z--a point of major confusion for me because I've been Ms. S for 41 years. But, for my 4 year anniversary present to my husband, I decided to change my name. Four years. I've been married for four years? How did that happen.
My monologue continued, "For those of you who don't know me, I've been teaching here for 14 years." Wow. That's a long time. It's been a whirlwind of a ride, one that at times I've wished to escape from, but I feel good about this year. The students are adorably young and enthusiastic, and I am excited about being able to have discussions about books with the ones who actually read them. *wink, wink*
"I've explained to the students," I said, "that my babies are 3 and 1. They go to bed at 8:00, and I go to bed at 8:10, so if they email me with a question at 11:15 PM hoping for an immediate response (which has happened already), they will be disappointed."
3 and 1? I was on maternity leave at this time last year. Now the little love is walking and pretending that she can talk, shaking her head yes as if she understands when I ask her a question. Where is my baby?
I keep asking the three year old if I can squish her up and put her back in my belly so that she can be born into a little baby again. She says--quite defiantly--NO! "I want to be a big girl." But I don't want them to grow. I want to freeze time and hold them in my arms and rock them and sing "Fools Rush In" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to them. There have been times when either of them has been insatiably upset, and I wished that I could nurse her to serenity, that our bodies melded together the way they did in infancy, and all they needed was the warmth and love of me.
One student, who is now a sophomore, had a few older brothers who were in high school when I started working here. I so vividly recall her tiny little body gripping to the hand or attached to the hip of her mother when they came to watch basketball games. She was so tiny, with wild brown curly hair. Now she's as tall as I am, with gorgeous brown hair that falls midway down her back.
I'm scared of my girls growing older. Nothing warms my heart more than the tender little child voice of my three year old who asks me every night to carry her up the stairs, rock her, and lie down with her. Let the dishes sit, I tell myself. She won't want this forever. I want to slow down the clock. I want to feel the hours, the minutes, the seconds and have the time to etch these moments into my memory, tattoo them on my heart, record them in my journal, so that when they have grown, I can go back and relive this bliss.