Today my daughter came to visit my classroom and kids. She usually visits a few times every year, but hadn't been in yet this year because she moved to Chicago in September for a new job and hasn't been home much. She is leaving next weekend for an exciting opportunity volunteering in Costa Rica for six weeks so she came home last weekend. She'll be living with a family and working with little ones in orphanages. I'm excited for this great adventure for her!
I mentioned to my class this morning that we would have a special visitor this afternoon - my daughter. They all smiled and acted excited about meeting her.
"But doesn't she live in Chicago?" asked one little boy. They know she moved to Chicago because I told them all about her in September and I also frequently visit her on the weekends and tell them about my travels.
"Yes. You're correct. She does. But she was here for the weekend and really wanted to come in and meet all of you!" I announced. "I'm always telling her how wonderful you all are so she wants to see for herself"
They smiled, proud that someone would want to come and meet them and happy that I told her how wonderful they are. And then we carried on with our busy day. Occasionally, throughout the day, one of my students would come up to me and ask what time she was going to come in or check to see that she was still going to come in.
"Yes.. yes..." I reassured them over and over. "She will be here after computer lab."
A anxious hand shot in the air. "Does she know how to get here?" he checked.
"Yes..yes...," I answered. "She has been here many, many times. Although not as many times as all of you." A few chuckled at my little joke.
During computer lab, one little girl came up behind me and grabbed the sleeve of my sweater. "What if your daughter goes to our room and we are not there? Then she won't know where we are and she'll leave," she said in a panic.
"Not to worry," I replied. "I told her we might still be in computer lab, so she'll come find us."
Once back in our room, excitement was in the air. My daughter would be there any moment! I was reading aloud from a book when my daughter breezed through the door, carrying a cupcake shaped container filled with cupcakes. There was silence, followed my lots of giggles, and whispers back and forth. I think they had all imagined that my daughter would be like an older brother or sister, a little taller, but still like a kid. My daugher, is in fact, quite grown up and it was obvious, she was not quite what they had visualized.
I introduced her and the giggling continued. Honestly, I haven't seen them this giggly all year.
"Let's play a little guessing game," I told them. "My daughter is going to be going to visit another country to volunteer for six weeks. You know the game, 'Where's Waldo?' You try to guess where she is going."
Most hands went into the air and some couldn't help it and shouted out country names. One by one they guessed with an occasional clue to help pinpoint the location. I had pulled the map down to help them and also get in a little geography by letting them point out each guessed place on the map.
Before too long, one little cutie had guessed Costa Rica and the game came to an end. Next up, we served rainbow colored cupcakes, which, as you can imagine, was a huge hit. Some students asked my daughter questions and then the class settled in to play chess for the final few minutes of the day.
As I was talking to a few students one of them said, "Hey! You should show your kid what happened to our map!" It had broken the other day and when they replaced it, they put another world map up. So our maps are now both world maps instead of one US map and one world map. For some reason, the kids find that very interesting.
"My what?" I asked her.
"Your kid," she answered and pointed to my daughter, just in case I couldn't pick her out of the crowd.
"What's my kid's name?" I challenged her. "Do you remember?"
She guessed wrong, but then again, and got it correct.
"It's funny that you're our teacher and you also have a big kid," she explained.
I'm wondering if that was meant as a compliment about me looking young, or more the fact that little kids can't conceive of their teacher having a life outside of school.
It doesn't seem like so long ago that my daughter was in the 3rd grade, giggling with her friends and eating cupcakes. And now she's the big kid.
So what does that make me?