A timely reminder


I have been awake since 5, having fallen asleep at a just a bit after 2.  My back aches, my neck is stiff, my right leg is sore and my shoulder has a new twinge.  Wow, what a wild night for a woman of my increasing age!!

I took my class on a field trip yesterday, walking through the city, finding historic sites and enjoying a picnic on the grass on the common.  Traveled an hour each way on a noisy bouncy schoolbus, complete with ramrod stiff plastic coated seats.

Last night I chaperoned a sleepover for 18 fourth graders in our school. Dinner was pizza, followed by sugar cookies and popcorn. We played basketball, made a giant tent out of a gym parachute, used scooters and rollerblades around the halls, and slept all night on a classroom floor. With lights on.

By 5 o’clock, my various aches and pains poked me awake, and I snuck upstairs to my classroom to make a cup of coffee.

I volunteered for this event in a moment of fleeting impulsivity.  As soon as the words “I’ll help!” left my lips, I desperately wanted to call them back.  I haven’t slept on a floor in a room full of kids in years! I have spent the past eight weeks regretting my offer, and dreading the event. I grumbled to myself about letting “the young kids” handle it themselves (I meant my colleagues in their 20’s and 30’s, not the students!!). Last night, as the parents dropped off the kids, there were quite a few unbelieving stares at me, and even a few comments along the lines of, “YOU’RE staying all NIGHT?”

Now, I am not actually all that old in the grand scheme of things.  I don’t use a walker and I can still see and hear.  But I do refer to my age more often than I should, and I do comment from time to time on how “teaching is a young woman’s game”.  So I think we all expected me to suffer from a sleepover for ten year olds!

But the thing is, sitting her this morning in my chilly classroom, waiting for my friends to wake up.  I am supremely happy that I was here for this!  This was 12 hours of nothing but fun.  I got sweaty, I got silly, I slid on the gym floor on my butt while the bright colors of the parachute swirled over my head, enclosing me in a bubble of laughing children.  I ate fattening food and watched a ridiculous movie.  I let go of myself for a while.

This morning I remember why kids love recess. I remember why popcorn and a sleeping bag make indelible memories and why whispering with your best friend in the middle of the night feels so unbelievably freeing.

My vow for next school year: I will play, at least once a week.  Hopscotch, basketball, checkers, 7-Up, soccer, tag.   I will play, and I will enjoy the aches and twinges while I am still spry enough to earn them.

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