There are those days when I leave my classroom thoroughly exhausted. The fatigue is real…and is so much more strongly felt as I age in this profession!
All day long, I am “on” – asking questions, answering questions, making decisions, redirecting student behavior, grading, planning – spinning a million plates all at once. As I dismiss the last group for the day, I feel like collapsing into my chair and taking a nap.
Alas, I cannot do that, for there is still after-school duty at the front of the school. Twenty more minutes. I trudge out to my place on the sidewalk.
Remarkably, though, it is during this interlude that I get the shot of adrenaline…energy…enthusiasm…resolve…to return to my room and continue with the hundreds of other things that must be done before leaving for home. It is also during this time that I feel the love and affirmation from the kids that convinces me that I can indeed rise above the exhaustion and return another day.
There are the crazy eighth grade boys who stop to shake hands and then throw out a series of barbs about my fading hair line. I have a comeback about their squeaky, hormonal voices.
I continue to wave traffic through the parking lot. I continue talking a mile a minute to every kid who passes.
“Come on boys and girls!” I holler. “We love you…but now it’s time to leave. Keep moving!”
A seventh grader with wet, red-stained fingers offers me some of her Takis. I decline, saying I’m on a diet.
Another attempts to ride his bike past me. “Off the bike,” I yell.
Two more run past me and almost knock over a pregnant mother carrying a toddler.
“Walk!” I shout. “Slow motion!”
A group of rowdy little sixth graders wave and say, in their loudest voices, that they want to be in my class next year.
Two of them step off the curb into the parking lane.
“On the sidewalk!” I bellow! “No one dies on my watch!”
A quiet fifth grade girl sidles up beside me to give me a hug. When I ask her how her brother, a student from two years ago is, she says, “He tells me to tell you, ‘Sup.’”
Another fifth grader compliments my new Vans.
A fourth grader asks me if I’ve seen her brother. I don’t even know who her brother is. Truthfully, I answer, “No.”
A third grader plays a few rounds of rock/paper/scissors with me and giggles when I lose.
A group of teenagers stop in the middle of the sidewalk to gossip about someone or something important. “Move along!” I admonish. “No loitering.” They don’t even know what the word means but, amazingly, they continue walking.
A second grader catches me off-guard by slamming into me from behind. He wraps his arms around me in a bear hug and plants a slobbery wet kiss on my elbow. “I love you, Mr. Ramsey,” he announces before sprinting off to his mother’s car waiting up ahead.
The crowd has thinned. The last of the cars have exited the lot. My colleagues are heading back to the office. Duty time is over.
I remove my safety vest and fall in behind my fellow teachers. Tired, but now with a smile on my face, I head for the office door.
“Mr. Ramsey!” a tiny kindergartener squeaks. “Mr. Ramsey! Look at my puppy!”
The little boy is next to his father’s SUV. Mother is holding a chihuahua who is wagging his entire rear end off.
The boy smiles from ear to ear. “He’s so happy to see me, Mr. Ramsey!” he giggles.
I smile. “So am I!” I exclaim. “That puppy is so lucky to belong to you!” Mom allows me to pet the dog. Dad reaches over to give me a handshake.
I wish the family a good evening and turn to enter the office. I have at least another hour of work before me.
But I’m recharged and ready to go.
Copyright, Tim Ramsey, 2019.