May Day, 4th Grade Crossing, and Teaching Assistant Nostalgia

A fully dressed maypole is a stunning sight, even during rehearsals. It’s Friday, known around here as “May Day,” and the fourth grade has just completed their final dress rehearsal before this evening. 

I’m standing to the left of the field next to the 70 empty fold out chairs, getting a little sad all of a sudden. 

My nostalgia is hasty, a little too early, I’ve still got 2 weeks with the kiddos before they’re released to Summer, to their individual, eager anxieties for what comes next, to 5th grade prep, to family vacations, to the stilted, sleepy boredom that comes with summer vacation if you’re lucky.

I want to tell them that what they’re making right now is called a memory and that the rarest and sweetest ones come from childhood. I want to say: remember how the 9 am breeze feels on your ankles and how the blades of grass are jade-colored. 

Even more so, I want to tell them to remember how it feels to be watched, to be as loved as they are in this moment. Forgive me this sentimentality–you can’t spend 10 months with seventy 10-year-olds and not feel something. 

May Day was blessed with ideal weather, balmy, dusk spring temperatures, and no major mishaps. 

The fourth graders were jangly with excitement and nerves. 

…and many extra Bobby pins for the girls’ flower headpieces were distributed liberally.    

At this age, remember, you are standing on the cusps of many changes. Physical, psychological, emotional, maybe familial, intellectual… not to mention hormonal.

It’s around this time a child gains a bigger sense of the scope of the monumental bigness of life, and that can be more than a little scary. It’s downright terrifying, actually.

When I get frustrated (and I have, many times) I have to remind myself of how brave they’re being. It helps with correcting my perspective and reactivates my empathy.

You’re old enough to have gotten a couple of scars on the outside as well as the inside but there is still innocence, a sweetness, to the way you pedestal your hopes and believe in the cores of goodness in everything, everyone.

It’s one week later…

…and we’ve just completed this year’s 4th Grade Crossing. After parent photos, we herd our students into classrooms and student bathrooms and even my office. They’ve shed their pristine whites for bikinis and bathing trunks.

Now, all five of us—Chandler Buggage, April Cosgrave, Anna Frame, Susan Pace, and myself—are standing outside and waving goodbye to them—sardined-in on the bus, grins cracking, sun-screened faces pressing against the school bus glass so that they look a little like cute ghost children. They’re being spirited away to a parent-sponsored pool party and to an afternoon already pregnant with their laughter.

Godspeed, kiddos. Please don’t drown.

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