Why on earth would a retired school teacher go on a field trip with a bunch of sixth graders? It should be noted that I did not ride on a bus filled with middle schoolers to get there. I'm crazy, but not THAT crazy. My reasons for going were very selfish, I readily admit. See this precious face in the photo? Not mine; the little boy's. That's ONE reason I went. Mr. Seth brings joy to everyone he sees.
Another reason? This boy right here. Calvin and I have a special relationship, too. It's been months since we've seen each other, and the first thing he asked me was, "How's Elvis?"
Calvin loved watching our bright blue Vietnamese Betta fish swim around in his bowl. I didn't want to tell him Elvis had died this summer, so I just told him I didn't bring Elvis; Elvis wasn't there. Calvin has an inquisitive mind, and asks in-depth questions about concepts like the resurrection. I decided to let that question go for today.
Actually, that day there were more than 35 reasons I wanted to go on the sixth grade field trip. My old fifth graders were this year's sixth graders. My young friends were going to be at the Mount Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, and I wanted to see them!
The Festival was well underway when I got there. I slipped into a seat at the back of the spacious tent. A few of the kids noticed me, and turned around with big smiles and small waves. They had already changed so much since they were mine. Some of the girls were wearing a little makeup, and the boys looked taller already. I couldn't stop smiling.
I hadn't been in my seat long when I felt a presence to my right. I could sense that someone was staring at me, and I slowly turned my head and looked up. There was Seth, beaming with his big open-mouth grin. We all scooted over to make room for him. I whispered to him how happy I was to see him. He smiled. I asked him if his mom were there. "No. Bailey (his sister). Mom's on vacation." More grinning. I let my hand slide from his shoulder, and gently rubbed his back. He seemed content to just sit there. After awhile, he returned to his seat by his sister. Before I knew it, the storytelling was over.
Children flooded to the back of the tent. A line formed so I could hug them one by one. Brooklyn wasn't wearing glasses...how grown up she looked. Talmage looked even more mature. How was that even possible? Jett and Nash stood with their friend behind the chairs, grinning at me from where they stood. There was Lilly, Adia...where was Michayla? I noticed another of my boys was missing. It's so weird that when one or two are gone, even with such a large group, their absence is felt.
We were a family last year. I was the lucky mom with 35 kids, and they were the lucky brothers and sisters; they had each other. No one dared pick on any of my kids. Several made comments during our morning meetings that this was the first year they didn't feel like anyone was bullying anyone else. My class was a force to be reckoned with...a force for good.
There aren't pictures of all of my kids from this day. The festival had concluded and it was time to load the buses. Many disappeared into the masses walking in droves to the parking lot. The few pictures I have are treasures. I only wish I had been able to catch each one for a quick pose.
There are so many stories I want to tell about these compassionate, wonderful people. It has been a pleasure contacting their parents during the last few days, making sure they were okay with my using their children's names and pictures. Some children will remain nameless in my blog due to circumstances beyond my control. But they will never be forgotten. I have their stories forever recorded in my heart.