My little sister won a history award (technically social science, but I’m stodgy so history it is), and they read part of an essay she had written about why she loved Band of Brothers. I, of course, felt my heart swell with pride because I had, in a roundabout way, introduced her to Band of Brothers. I’m not saying that she owes the award entirely to me…but she owes the award mostly to me. But as I sat there thinking about Band of Brothers and Henry V and St. Crispin’s Day my thoughts turned to teaching (not a surprise since I think about my job a majority of the time).
The link between the two is this: many WWII veterans left the battlefield and entered the classroom. I wanted to have an impressive statistic, but when I googled “how many wwii veterans became teachers” not a whole lot showed up. But I remember being surprised that a significant number entered my profession. Maybe they missed the camaraderie. Every time I watch the BoB miniseries, I cry. Not necessarily because of the men who lost their lives (although truly, I cry through the whole thing), but because the band is broken. Everyone just goes home. When I watch this with Ali, I tearfully beg her to reassure me that they all stayed friends forever.
Truly there is no better feeling than being an integral part of a team. On my team we each have our defined roles and gifts. We take care of each other. In the past year, we have helped each others’ kids with homework, picked paint colors, made dinner when one of us was recovering from surgery, done yoga, shopped, eaten lunch together every single day (which is rare apparently), worn matching outfits for special weeks (today we dressed in Canadian tuxedos), traded recipes, baked for one another…it goes on and on. These women have become my confidantes, friends, second mothers, and comrades at arms.
This last week has been particularly bittersweet because two of our team of six are leaving. Luckily they’ll still be at my school, but they will be at a different campus. A cloud hung over us the entire week. I love my students, and they are the reason I’m here, but truly my team is why I love my job. And now I’m very sad.
Today I read my students my favorite chapter from The Little Prince. I never understood it until I watched Dr. Jackson’s lecture on youtube. In it, a fox encounters the Little Prince and begs to be tamed. “What is tamed,” the Little Prince wonders. And what follows is a beautiful passage:
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”
“To establish ties?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”
I have been tamed. And I have tamed. Two years ago, I came to my school worn out and unsure whether I would continue teaching. I had to get to know a whole new team of teachers and none of them were anywhere close to my age (luckily I am nothing if not an old soul). But now…they are forever unique to me, and I am forever unique to them.
I hadn’t meant to be so sad. I need to write and wrap-up the last week of school. There is nothing quite like the last week of “classes” in elementary school, but the words and tears started flowing, and so there you have it. But as Gandalf says, “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” Missing them as I will, I couldn’t and wouldn’t have wanted it any different than this.