Every year after the first day of school, the teachers gather together for a tea and celebrate the occasion with short little sharings and cute little stories about their day. At the end, I traditionally raise my cup and say, “1 down, 174 to go!”
I never actually feel that way, like the school year is a chore to get through, an item on the list to tick off before the real life of summertime. The joy and pleasure of teaching children has always felt like a different kind of summer beach, filled with heart-uplifting walks finding beautiful stones, refreshing dips in the cool waters, evening campfires on the dune singing songs and roasting marshmallows.
Of course, all that is changed for a moment in these COVID times and personally changed for me as I accidentally made the decision to retire a year and a half ago, never suspecting how right that would be. But still I care and thought about my daughter and music colleagues at the school and indeed, all the teachers and kids and not just at my school, but so many schools where I know the teachers and then on to all the schools and teachers I don’t know, but still wish well. I could have gloated that I spent the day walking the beach with my grandchildren skipping stones, swimming in the lake and yes, making s’mores over a campfire at night while singing songs. Well, I was happy for it, but still a piece of my heart was with the school online opening ceremony. And my hands as well, as my colleague James requested a video of me playing Side by Side on the piano and used it in the virtual opening ceremony.
Yesterday morning, I texted good wishes to my daughter and beyond and then at night, just had to write, “1 down, 174 to go.” But to a fellow recently-retired teacher, I wrote: “Happy first day of school where we’re not there! 1 down, _______ to go!”
May that number be large!