Last week I wrote about boxes in my celebration post. Today, I am still talking boxes. When moving happens, boxes happen. They are collected. Taped together. Filled. Numbered. Labelled. Stacked. As the box towers got bigger, the leaving became more and more real. Soon the boxes contained most of what was coming with me. The stuff not yet packed tempted me to abandon careful organization and just shove it all in and seal it up. When really, I needed to handle item by item and commit to letting it go. The stuff that needs to stay? All that is more about history than future. Those last piles of things are the most exhausting.
I have done all of this box maneuvering while still teaching children every day. Arrive at 7:30 a.m. to top up and seal those last boxes I couldn’t finish the previous evening. Ready the room for children. Pour another cup of coffee and open the door to students at 8:55 am. Teach and work with kids all day. At 3 p.m. dismiss the students and begin packing again. Each box went much the same way: a heavy but thin layer of books at the bottom, then stacks of lighter things. Everything in the room considered for its shape, its weight, its depth and whether I needed it the next day to work with the students in the room.
Finish packing at 7 p.m. and spend up to an hour clearing up, readying the room for students again. Clear tables, bin up the things I pulled out and didn’t pack. Find new areas to stack boxes. Keep work areas clear. Leave for home around 8 p.m. – remedy the missed dinner, acknowledge the exhaustion, drink endless cups of water, visit briefly with my family, sleep. Wake multiple times in the night to worry about what still needs to get done.
I have done this routine for 2 full weeks. Each day packing up a room and then readying it again for children in the morning.
In the last few days were the goodbyes. The tears. The never ending hugs. The love.
Every afternoon for the past 2 weeks, these three girls stayed behind at 3 p.m. to show me a dance they had choreographed in my honour. It involved lots of giggles and some original poetry reading. Each day a new routine. All for me. What could be sweeter?
On my last day with students, I fed them all day. Morning baking. Popsicles after recess. Popcorn with their buddies in the afternoon. Eating kept some of the emotions in check. Here we are sharing a calendar made for me with student photos.
We ended our last day together with a gratitude circle. It was truly beautiful. I told them I am grateful for all of it. The laughter. The learning. The hard stuff. The tears. The joy.
“Even the not listening?” one child asked.
“Yes, that too.”
“The crying even?”
“The crying even.”
“All of it?”
“All of it.”
And I am. I celebrate my year with these students. I celebrate 21 years at this little school. I celebrate that I am brave enough to move. And that I have a new space to ready for students this September.
And a whole lot of boxes to unpack. One at a time.
Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!
Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.
What a journey you’ve been on packing and teaching these last few weeks! I hope you will be able to enjoy some time relaxing before the task of unpacking arrives. What a gift you have given your students!
Elsie, no I am instantly unpacking! But it is a joyful thing. Off on a holiday soon – a week away to the island which will be lovely!
Packing, teaching, saying goodbye, and getting ready to greet a new year in a new place. My goodness! I hope you have some time to rest and relax this summer.
There will be some time for unpacking and some time for relaxing – not sure about the balance . . .
Packing. Moving. Ending. Beginning. There’s so much emotion here! I love the dances from the students. I love the food. I LOVE that you ended with a gratitude circle. Thank YOU and best of luck on your move!
Lots of emotion, it’s true. But good. It’s all good.
I love your gratefulness for the entirety of who kids are and what they do. That’s beautiful!
What else can we be, right? Everything is learning.
Just heard Norman Lear (93 yo producer of All in the Family and other society-changing sitcoms) say that his only advice to living long and well would be two words: OVER and NEXT. Once things are behind you, stop living the past. Then move on to the future. The “hammock” between those two would be called living in the moment.
May you have a wonderful “living in the moment” hammock of a summer, and a challenging but glorious NEXT. All the little lives you’ve changed will be moving on to their own NEXTs, too, with success thanks to time they spent with you.
NEXT is a wonderful word to celebrate! Thank you for sharing this.
I do celebrate the past memories, but have always gloried in the possibilities of “next”, like Sandy’s comment above very much. I’m sure last week was hard with the students, love seeing those three wonderful girls who danced for you, Carrie, and the pic with you-a treasure. Best wishes in living with the boxes, and enjoying the summer with family, looking forward to creating anew in the fall. Hugs!
Many thanks Linda. Aren’t these little dancers adorable? I was so happy an honoured with each routine 🙂
Carrie I wish you the best on your new endeavor. I look forward to reading about your new adventures at your new school!
Thanks Lisa! I am very excited about all of the possibilities.
Yes, those last pieces, the last bits are the most difficult. As are the last days. So much to take with you and so much to take in. I’m glad you’re through it. A difficult thing. A time to celebrate the history, the kids, and the future.
It’s been a process and all encompassing but I am happy.
Sending you BIG love. I hope you get some giant swaths of time this summer to breathe, read, hike, soak up your family and decompress from the emotional journey you’ve been on this year. xo
Those times are ahead but I have some unpacking to do first . . .
Your positivity is found in your words, Carrie. There is a bright smile on your face as you immerse yourself in your students’ joys. Best of luck on your new venture.
Many thanks Carol.
Here’s to hoping you have a whole lot of time to rest, relax, and recharge before you face those boxes again. I’m amazed at your tenacity. Now go get some rest.
I find the unpacking kind of energizing – resting will come in a few weeks 🙂
Wow. Twenty-one years. You are brave. I am moving schools too. After 17 years in the same community, it was time. To silence the messages of doubt in my head, I keep telling myself that it’ll make a better teacher. Best of luck at your new school with your new students and your new colleagues.
It’s easy to ignore the sage advice: “Change is good.” while we are happy to just be. But when we are ready to move, change is indeed good!
I’m chiming in again with the long view from a geezer. I was in a school setting with kids I loved and who needed what I could give them for twenty years. Due to a variety of reflections and circumstances I knew, too, that I needed to let go and move on, despite feeling like I was leaving behind a true home filled with current and unforgettable family.
I continued on in another school setting with an entirely different set of needs and issues, and found there a new family of colleagues and community members to help me support my students.
Eventually I retired having had twenty years in each setting, and in each I found new ways to grow and learn and teach and support and discover and become a better me while doing my best to help my students do the same.
The change was costly in many ways, but worth it, and I’m deeply proud of both areas of service. I have no doubt you’ll find the same kind of joy and challenges in your new home, while finding your heart has grown enough to hold your past alongside your new present.
And we’ll enjoy following your journey and reflections along the way.
Sandy, I am so very glad you chimed in again. Your words, wisdom and experience are a gift to me.
What can I add? I’d give anything to have you teach my children, and I wouldn’t mind borrowing a healthy dose of the kind of thoughtfulness and commitment that allowed you to pack so carefully.
How very kind – thank you!