6/02/2012

My Beautiful Buttercups

I know all too well how hard it is to say goodbye. Before I moved to England Carl and I endured 6 years in a long (and I mean LONG) distance relationship. At one point we went a gruelling year and a half without seeing each other in person. I also know what it's like to say goodbye to my beautiful family and friends for months, and sometimes YEARS, at a time. Waving sayonara to my home as I gaze out of  that horrible tiny egg shaped plane window with tears rolling down my cheeks just isn't my idea of fun. Perhaps that's why I hate airports so much. I always associate them with some gut retching goodbye. 

But over the past 10 months I've grown to detest another kind of goodbye. A goodbye that's new and awkward. A goodbye that's not the same as those family and friend "see-you-later's!" One that equally breaks my heart and provokes tears. The kind of goodbye that I wish I didn't have to do, yet I'll know in the future I'll replicate every single year. The kind of goodbye where I find myself having to be the 'adult.' The kind of goodbye where I force myself to put on a brave face and forcefully suck down the sadness as I'm bombarded with hugs, cuddles and 'I don't want you to go's!' The kind of goodbye where my voice breaks as I say "This is my last day my little love bugs and I'm going to miss you all SO much."  The kind of goodbye where I contemplate that maybe, if I'm lucky, I may have been able to positively impact those beautiful little children as much as they have me. The kind of goodbye where I feel sad, proud, happy and blessed all at the same time. The kind of goodbye only a teacher knows. Like the goodbye I just said to my beautiful Buttercup Class.
Yesterday was my very last day of placement...not just with my Buttercups, but EVER. Over the next 4 weeks I'll be tying up the loose ends of my PGCE and in July I graduate as a teacher specializing in Early Years. To be honest, it all really hasn't sunk in. Even as I type this now I still feel as though Monday morning my alarm will go off at 6:30 and I'll be frantically hurrying around the house collecting my teddy bears, favorite Laura Numeroff  "If You Give a..." story books and packed lunch before running for my train.  How have the past 8  weeks 10 months gone so quickly? How is it that I don't get to see my little Buttercups any more? How will I cope without their adorable smiling faces, gazillion hugs and daily "Good Morning beautiful Mrs Anderson. You're lovely and I love you" spiel during attendance? What will I do when I'm germ, headache, puke, snot and booger free? How am I already done my teaching practices? What will I do with myself? It's going to be hard, (yes, I'll even miss the snot and boogers) and I'd be lying if I said I'm not crying right now. Because saying goodbye to children you spend every day with and grow to adore is hard, damn hard, and I'm genuinely going to miss them. Every single snot and germ ridden, giggling, one. 

I know you're probably sitting there thinking how ridonculous it is to get so upset and emotionally attached to a class I only spent a couple of months with, but I do. Every single time. I can't help it. I'm one of those girls who wears her heart on her sleeve like a mismatched patch grandma sew 3 summers ago. I've grown to absolutely love all of my classes, every single one of my students, and I find it especially hard to leave them. I don't know if it's my ever growing 'motherly instincts' or that damn heart shaped patch, but I'm seriously beginning to wonder how the hell  I'm going to cope when I've got my own class. Surely this sappy crying-every-time-you-say-goodbye-to-your-class fiasco must get old and die away? Or should I stock up on heavy duty waterproof mascara and store it in the top drawer of my desk right next to the Ibuprofen, chocolate, polka dot boxed Kleenex and hand sanitizer? Will people eventually view me as an emotionally unstable weirdo if this embarrassing bawling ritual never dies? Maybe. Probably. But deep down I really don't mind. If getting emotionally attached to my little kiddies, pouring my heart and soul into every single lesson I deliver and doing my damnedest to be the best teacher I can be means turning into a sap...that's fine by me. I'll just ask for cute embroidered hankies like Kathleen Kelly and Prozac each Christmas. Problem solved. 

You'll know from reading my posts about my first and second placements how blessed I have been in working with not only wonderful children, but really inspirational, encouraging and supportive teachers who have taken me under their wings and really allowed me to find my own as a teacher. Over the past 10 months I've truly started to understand who I am as a practitioner and develop my unique teaching style. I'm well aware that if I hadn't been so lucky, in that the schools I spent my time in were wonderful, I might not have had the opportunity to really jump and spread my wings. I'm so appreciative to have had such positive teaching placements with great staff and the most adorable children around. You'll know from previous posts how my Year 2 and Nursery classes handed me countless laughs, and I can assure you that my little Kindergartener's did not disappoint. Just last Monday I was laughing hysterically as Emma and Tallise fought over who was going to be Lucus' "lovely gorgeous new wife" (Baha! I wish I'd recorded it to show them in another 10 years) or Jamie informing me that sometimes 'horsey's eat their own poo, ya know!"  because he "watched Mummy's horsey licking and eatin' it off the ground!!!" I've heard so many farts during the morning attendance that I've lost count and I've seen so many miners digging for gold I'm surprised we're not all rich. I've been given so many hugs in the last year I don't understand how I haven't got small child impression marks around my hips and my time in the classroom has allowed me to uncover an unhealthy obsession with stickers. 

I was able to implement my beloved Starbucks gingerbread teddy bear, Mr Philippe Mario, into my teaching and I'm not lying when I say he became a permanent staple within the Buttercups classroom. I found myself making him dance while recreating his silly little voice on a daily basis (seriously if any of you had seen these lessons where I make Philippe talk and move you'd question my sanity) and yesterday in the midst of the goodbyes one of the most ADORABLE little girls to ever walk the planet, Georgie, was 100% inconsolable as it finally dawned on her that Philippe Mario was leaving forever with Mrs. Anderson. Honestly, the crocodile tears were relentless and between sniffles she would repeat "I don't want Philippe to go! Can't I give him another cuddle please!?"  For a moment I even considered leaving him with her - but then the realization that I'm just as obsessed with the little fluff ball sunk in (am I the most selfish person walking the planet? Taking my teddy bear away from a 5 year old?) and I quickly diverted her by promising Philippe's "Mini-Me" would be staying forever and strategically made up some story about how he watches over us and cries when we cry and smiles when we smile. As soon as I'd said that she wiped her eyes and said "So if I'm cryin' now does Philippe Mario cry too? I don't want him to cry." (Awww!!) I handed Georgie Philippe's Mini-Me (which she kissed and hugged repeatedly), I gave her the biggest tightest cuddle and made my monkey face. Thank goodness children are resilient, cause had she not stopped crying I would have sat right there blubbering with her. 
Before the end of the day, as promised, I read my very last Laura Numeroff book If you Give a Pig a Pancake (they LOVED these books, If you haven't heard of them seriously check them out! They were my favorites as a child too!) and I handed out their special gummy bears and personalized certificates (which I made for free using this AWESOME website
When I explained that I would be going back home soon they asked lots of hilarious questions like "Are you going to get on a plane from America every day to go to your next school?!?"  and "in America do you live by Mickey Mouse?" which made me love them a little bit more. Miss Ryder (or Rebecca to you and I - The Buttercups are Rebecca's class that I hijacked for the past 8 weeks. She was my school mentor and is truly an inspirational teacher) pulled up a chair an explained that she and The Buttercups had some lovely goodbye gifts for me. But that the first one was for Philippe! Haahaha (would you believe me if I said these children were truly obsessed with this little Gingerbread teddy who (little did they know) taught them phonics and blackmailed them with story time cuddles in order to get them to behave. Muaaha!) Philippe received the following card and because it was so sweet Mrs. Anderson (the sap) may have shed a tear or twenty.
(please notice he is wearing his goodbye stickers and ribbons)
Little Ava even made him a "button box" (because, being a gingerbread man, Philippe LOVES buttons)
In addition to Philippe's ADORABLE gifts, The Buttercups got me the sweetest card EVER which was filled with love hearts that each of them had signed. They also gave me my very first special fountain "Teacher's pen" for when I'm grading papers or doing other important 'teacher things.' (which made me giggle because as a thank-you I had got Rebecca a fancy fountain pen too! Great minds. Holla!!)


And even though all of those sweet and thoughtful gifts were MORE than enough (by the way, I was crying so much at this point that I couldn't even read out the cards and the kids were hurrying up to me giving me hugs cause they were worried something was seriously wrong) Miss Ryder passed along another card and present, which were from her. Honestly, I am such a lucky girl who was SPOILED ROTTEN by such wonderful people. Rebecca's card was one that she had stitched herself (so sweet. She must be Martha Stewarts long lost daughter) and her gift was honestly one of the most adorable, thoughtful, creative, HILARIOUS gifts I've ever received  I don't even want to use any of the things inside because it's just so perfect/funny/fantabulous. 

My "Teacher Survival Kit" was equipped with all of the following: hand sanitizer, 'nit/lice combs,' ear plugs, cough drops, extra strength Ibuprofen, extra strength Paracetamol, counting coins, tape, scissors, sticky notes, tissues, face masks, foot and hand treatments, White-Tac, note pads, highlighters, a calculator, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, and fruit gummies.  
It was a perfect last day filled with lots of tears - but a lot of happiness. While I'm going to miss all of my beautiful Buttercups, I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to teach and (hopefully) inspire them. I only wish that the Altaic Ocean wasn't so vast so that  I could stick around to watch them grow into wonderful young adults. My heart would probably explode.

The past year of teaching has been hard - really hard - exciting, time consuming, tiring, downright exhausting, stressful, scary, fun, enjoyable, special, fulfilling and so unbelievably rewarding. While I know it's a not an easy job - it's one that is unbelievably demanding (both physically and mentally) I am passionate and enthusiastic about the future. I'm so unbelievably excited for this next chapter in my life to begin and I'm counting down the days until I find that dream school with my first dream class. It's not far away now. All that hard work is starting to pay off and I know my goal is just within my grasp. And that feels good. Really, really good.

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