If my 18 month old were here today, he would be following me around repeating, "wah-der, wah-der, wah-der..." Wah-der is for anything in liquid form (tears for example), and is repeated over and over and over when spotted.
I said goodbye to my kids a few minutes ago and wow, I was not expecting the tears. Not just tears, actual voice cracking crying. Talk about water works. I held it together for the first couple of hugs... I'm not a hugger, so these hugs were already pretty powerful already, but my kids took it to another level. They held those hugs so hard and long, they told me they would miss me so much, they cried, yet I still held it together. And then I got to my friend who I have taught for two years.
This friend is the sweetest boy I have ever met. This friend has very little at home. Very little time with a parent, very little money, very little nutrition, very little structure. He sleeps on the living room couch. Bed time is when the family decides to retire for the night. He has a tough life yet still understand what it means to be a good friend, what it means to be respectful, what it means to be responsible. School has always been hard for him. While struggling through a book, he would stop, look at me, and say, "this is just so hard for me..." Broke my heart. But, he persevered and worked so hard and at the end of his second year in kindergarten, he was ready for first grade.
He was fourth in line for a hug. He leaned into me and hugged me so hard, I barely got my words out. The words, "have a great summer, I will miss you very much" just aren't enough for this boy. I will miss him. I will worry about him. I will constantly wonder if he's okay.
After that, I was done. Tears everywhere. At dismissal, parents snapped pictures of me and their kids - tears streaming down my cheeks. What a mess!
Then, because our school is the most amazing school in the world, all the teachers hiked up the hill to the entrance and waved good bye to every student who left. Teachers were cheering and clapping and wishing luck to the kids. Some of them, well fine... I was one of them, also reminded them to put on their seatbelts. Come on, you can't just let that go! Cars drove past and kids got individual shout-outs and cheers, and then the busses passed.
You have to experience it to understand, but when a bus full of your students drives by and you're waving and cheering, and they're waving and cheering -- well, wow, it's powerful. I looked around and saw many teachers' eyes fill up.
Then they were gone. We all walked back into the building and headed back to pack. My room is almost packed up and looks nothing like the place I have spent the past 180+ days. Next year I will have a new group and we'll start again, but right now I think I will just be happy being proud of my students, and of course, missing them too. Damn it, here come the tears again.