This morning as my students were moving from planner check to centres, I noticed one of my students sitting at his desk alone. “Unusual”, I thought to myself, best check in with him. I knelt down and put my arms on his desktop and quietly asked him if everything was OK. He looked up with huge tears welling up in his eyes and whispered, “my grandpa died last night”.
To save him from being seen crying in front of the other boys, I put my arm around his shoulder and steered him into the hall. We talked about how hard it was to say goodbye to someone you love and I asked him if he wanted to go home and he said that he wanted to stay. After a big hug I asked him what he wanted to do and he said that he wanted to read at his desk. Once he was composed he returned to class. My amazing EA gave me a look and I promptly walked myself back out the door.
And burst into tears. Yesterday I received the gutting news that my cousin was not likely to live more than two weeks.
I composed myself, put on my best teacher smile and got on with the day. I made sure that my little student got support from the counsellor, we reviewed and practiced some of the Daily 5 strategies that we have been working on, built stamina for “read to someone”, read aloud from my favourite book, had snacks and off the class went for recess break. I thought I had done a pretty good job of “keeping it together”. I did my usual running around at recess and went back to my desk to grab something to eat.
On my desk I found these:
Which was really sweet 🙂 I have darling kids in my class. I assumed that they made these at the art centre at the beginning of the day. I smiled to myself and casually flipped one over and saw this:
The recess bell went and I walked over to the door to let the class in out of the rain. With teary eyes I asked them to join me at the gathering spot. The little one who had lost his grandfather was still with the counsellor, so I chose this as a good time to talk.
As best I could, I told the group that one of our classmates was very sad today and that made me very sad. You could hear a pin drop. We talked about how sometimes we don’t understand why things happen and that it was good to talk about things that make us sad. The hands started to go up and almost all of the kids had a story to share about someone they knew who had died. Nobody interrupted, heads nodded…it was profound. I let them know that our classmate probably didn’t want to talk about it right now, but might later and would probably love to have his friends to hang out with right now to keep his bucket full.
We wrapped it up and carried on with our day-did our KenKens in math, had lunch, used Google Earth to research where our Skype class was from, got words of advice about skyping from our Grade 6 Buddies and even did a little dancing to that cute fuzzy critter from Ice Age 4. I gave hugs, high5’s or handshakes at the door and the day was done. Gave a workshop to my colleagues about Kidblog and then headed home.
When I got home I learned that Ben passed this afternoon. The most amazing dad I have ever seen, husband of an epic love story, my childhood hero and first little girl crush. A dear friend.
I will keep these little love notes in my pocket tomorrow and know that there is good in this world and I know that would make Ben very happy.