For four years I taught Kindergarten and loved it. This is my ninth year teaching first grade -- which completely blows my mind sometimes (but that's a reflection for another day) -- and sometimes I have experiences that illustrate some of the difference between 5-turning-6 year olds and 6-turning-7 year olds.
One of my students, Tarak, has been away visiting family in his country since late November. It was a wonderful moment this morning when he walked in and we got to see him again for the first time in over a month! Well, his birthday was in December, and even though he was not there to celebrate with us, we still made a huge card and got out the birthday pencil for him to save for when he got back.
To be honest, with all of the busyness of starting up again, it had slipped my mind.
This afternoon during activity time, we were working on a card for a January birthday friend and when Tarak signed it, he told me: "My birthday passed, but we're still gonna celebrate it here." I nodded at him. "Yes, your birthday was December 8th, right?" He beamed at me, and then went back to signing the card.
That conversation had triggered my memory, so I went to get his card and pencil and brought it over to him. I put it in front of him and waited for him to notice (and, yes, sometimes I do have an overdeveloped sense of the dramatic). He looked up, saw the oversized card, read his name, and then looked inside to see detailed drawings and signatures from everyone in our class.
"Wow." He looked up at me, genuinely surprised. "You guys made me a card."
"Of course we did! Just because you weren't here didn't mean we weren't thinking about you."
And then, this question: "Do I get to take it home?"
I loved this. Loved it. Because, at the very basic level, it showcases how six-seven year olds are starting to move out of some of the more self-focused egocentrism of 5 year olds (not to imply anything negative about 5 year olds. They are incredibly kind and thoughtful and I think each one of them ought to be consulted by the government when they try to make laws.) and into the appreciation of the fact that people would make cards! When he wasn't even there! That out of sight doesn't mean out of mind.
And that, damn, it was really good to have Tarak back in school today. ♥