I have a hard time with emotions. Not sure why, I just have always had a hard time with sad emotions. Happy emotions are my lifeblood, so those are okay. But I will shy away from any situation that involves even the slightest possibility of emotional pain. So this Friday, when Elsie June had her last day of school at my school, I just didn't think about it.
I was on the phone with my sister Friday afternoon when I realized I was seeing this scene for the last time ever. My Elsie June-ie girl walking down the hall in front of me, with her bookbag on and her head full of things to tell me as we drive home--such as this gem from last week "Liberty made a bad choice today. When Chase spit at her, she stuck her tongue out at him and spit back. Hearts and Stars down for both because Liberty made that choice." (I am not sure if she was more impressed with Liberty's badness or Chase's.)
And now, she is moving on to kindergarten, going to her brother and sister's school where she can ride the bus.
She is so excited to go on the bus and I honestly do think it is nice for the kids to go to a different school than I work at--gives them a little space. But oh.... my heart.
This is Elsie's Pre-K classroom, right by the door we leave by with her flower and her paper plate sunshine and her coffee filter butterfly on the wall.
As I was walking out to the parking lot, Elsie asked me a question and I answered funny because I was the teensiest bit choked up about it. She asked me why I was talking like that and I said "Oh just need to clear my throat." And I thought about that on the way home. Why wouldn't I just tell her that I was sad about her not going to my school next year? I always want to spare my kids from my emotions, but why?
For a class this spring, I had to read Beautiful Child by Torey Hayden. Such as awesome book! If you are involved in education any which way, you should read it. Anyway, there is an incredibly patient teacher's aide in that book. After an incident where a child carelessly broke something and the teacher got impatient and the TA soothed the student with "That wasn't your fault was it? I am sure you didn't mean to do that. Let's sweep up the pieces." The teacher later talked to the TA about being emotionally honest with the students. If we are always pretending everything is okay, how can students learn that emotions are okay? How can they see how to handle emotions appropriately? For some reason, that really struck a deep note in me. Maybe because I normally avoid emotions.
I realized I am not being emotionally honest with my kids. I don't think I will ever put all my emotions out there for my kids to deal with. Because they are kids. I am the adult here. I shouldn't be scaring kids with just how very upset I am about a decision made at work. When things fall apart, kids need adults to keep things together. But I do think it is good for kids to see adults face these emotions and handle them.
Two weeks ago Orianna left for a road trip with her aunt and uncle. She will spend three weeks in Wyoming working, traveling around, and visiting ranches before we catch up with her and take her on our road trip. As I was saying goodbye, I had to cut it short and get out of there before I started crying. For some reason, letting people see me cry is the worst of the worst. I thought I was sparing Orianna from feeling sad about this very exciting trip, but why shouldn't she feel a little sad about things for a minute? She is leaving home and parents for the first time ever--it is a little scary, no matter how exciting it is.
Today Justin and kids headed off for Wyoming. I am not allowed to miss the last week of school, even though I have hardly any classes, so I will fly out to meet them on Saturday.
(Side note, isn't Justin a great dad taking on three kids and 2,500 miles by himself? And on Father's Day!)
As they were leaving, I decided I would not try to hide the fact that watching them leave without me was like tying my heart to the bumper and feeling it pulled from my chest. (Not to be dramatic or anything.) So when I hugged them, I didn't swallow back all my tears. I didn't hurry through the goodbye. I did the group hug instead of talking a lot and reminding them of completely useless things that they aren't about to forget anyway.
Lily and Elsie started crying. Justin texted me later and said they cried off and on for the next hour and a half. Elsie kept saying "I don't want to leave mommy behind, it's not as fun without her."
A few minutes ago, Orianna called, happy as a clam, telling me about all her new friends and full of news and new found confidence.
I would like to end this post with some newfound wisdom about how important it is to be emotionally honest with our kids, but at this point, the jury still appears to be out. Orianna is clearly fine and flying high with her abbreviated goodbye and Lily and Elsie are sad and lonely with my weepy goodbye.
Either way, I still cried a lot when they were gone. Because let's face it, there is an awful lot of my heart driving away in that Suburban.
And now, I need to use this week to Get. Things. Done. I have a terrible test I have to do called the edTPA and I am DREADING it. But it must be done and when better to do it?
I think I might cry again just thinking about that....