Today was our school's much anticipated Field Day. It's an exciting day for little kids, and teachers don't mind it too much either. At this point of the year, taking a classroom of excited kids outside is synonymous with "classroom management". In fact, it's practically the only way to calm them down a bit. Let them head outside to run around, play games, get soaked with water balloons and other assorted water games, eat an icy treat, run around some more, talk in loud voices, and be a kid. Just have fun.
After answering several hundred [exaggeration] questions about Field Day this morning, that I have answered every morning for two weeks, we settled in to our morning routine. After math, writing, and a fun hands-on straw rocket science exploration, it was time for recess, lunch, and then FIELD DAY! Everyone was so excited. Many changed into their bathing suits in anticipation of the water games. We reviewed the "rules" together before we headed outside:
1. Stay with your buddy.
2. Have fun!
I headed to the field to run the Tug of War game, with bullhorn and clipboard in hand. Awaiting me were eighty-five, hyped-up, green-shirted, screaming little ones, ready to get the party started.
I held up the bullhorn and lined up two of the classes to begin their Tug of War. One of the classes was mine, who were versing one of the other 3rd grade classes. I went over the directions, reminded them to "let go of the rope if it starts sliding through their hands to prevent rope burn", and pick up the rope to get ready.
"3..... 2.......1..... PULL!" I announced into the bullhorn and a line of kids on either side of the rope began pulling and screaming.
"Muscle up!" I yelled to my group of little ones as they pulled and strained against the rope. "Come on... pull!" I encouraged the other class. I didn't want to play favorites, after all.
My class lost (frowny face) and the winning team waited for the other two classes to produce a victor.
Meanwhile, the temperature had soared to the high 80's and the humidity was a very unpleasant 98%. I looked around at the playground at all the kids running and playing and laughing. I saw the multitude of parents who volunteer their time so willingly to be a part of the festivities. I am lucky I work in a school district where the parents support us, help us, and are there for us, especially on days like Field Day. Parents run the games, help manage the kids, and make sure we all have a great time!
And then, my responsibilities over at the Tug of War, I headed inside to the air conditioning to cool off for a bit.
The weather hasn't been too stable lately and, soon, the skies darkened and looked ominous. Weather.com reported that severe thunderstorms were headed our way, with high winds, hail possible, and rain. So, Field Day was called early, and the students rushed around the playground picking up all the game parts to bring inside. The school wide Tug of War was postponed until tomorrow.
Once inside, I counted to ensure I had all my little students back where they needed to be. Three went home with their moms and the remaining students sat there awaiting instructions for what we would do next. I glanced at my class and noticed one little boy was sitting in his seat, shirtless.
"[insert student name], please go put your shirt on," I directed.
"I can't find it!" he replied. "I think I left it outside. Can I go look for it?"
Every head in the room turned to the windows and the now pouring rain, coming down in sheets across the playground. The wind was blowing and rain was smacking against the windows.
"Ahhhh....." I started. "I don't think you want to go outside in this," I told him. He nodded in agreement. "But you really need some clothes on," I finished. "I don't need a room full of naked children." They all giggled.
He laughed. "But, I'm not naked," he said, as he stood up and pointed to his dripping wet shorts.
"Whew!" I said, wiping my hand across my brow. "Thank goodness!"
He sauntered out into the hallway where numerous other little ones were searching for clothes, changing shoes, or just milling about. He came back in shortly with a sweatshirt on, zipped up to his neck. He smiled.
"Lucky for me, I had my sweatshirt here, so I'll just wear this," he told me and the class.
I won't lie to you -- the afternoon was long. We hadn't planned on being inside, teaching. We had planned on being outside all afternoon. But the students adapted and the teachers improvised and before long it was time to go home. As the students were packing up in the hallway, I approached my sweatshirt-wearing student.
"How are you going to explain to your parents that you don't have a shirt?" I asked him, smiling.
"Well, I'll just tell them it was Field Day," he answered. As if that would explain everything.
At that exact time, I looked across to the 4th grade coat racks. There, on the rack, was a dripping, green shirt. I failed to mention earlier that 3rd grade Field Day shirt color was green, so clearly the shirt was not the property of any white-shirted 4th grader.
"Is that your shirt?" I asked him, pointed to the dripping green mass.
He walked over. He touched it. He pulled it off the rack and turned it over in his hands. He turned my way. He grinned.
"Hey! Here's my shirt!" he yelled as he rushed back to our room, cluching it in his hands.
"Super!" I told him. "But now how are you going to explain your soaking wet shirt?" I asked him.
"Simple," he said. "Field Day!"
And at that instant, the bell rang, and a mob of students headed down the hall and to the front door.
And something tugged at my heart.
I realized that I'm gonna really miss them.