Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Magic Watch

The ‘Magic Watch’ is on its way out. I was planning to tell its tale regardless, but now that it is on its deathbed, it seemed especially important that I share the story of my ‘Magic Watch’ and what it represents, as well as the chapter of my life it represents, as  it comes to a close.

Before I picked this watch out at Target, the idea of the ‘Magic Watch’ existed, but was not a full-fledged belief amongst my students. Once I got this beautiful mint green watch, which apparently is not in fact waterproof, as I was led to believe, as almost all water resistant banded and digital clocks are these days, the legend seemed to become more alive than ever.

When I worked at Goddard, often my students would feel homesick. This is to be expected when you work with children from ages 6 weeks all the way up through 5 years old, with some school-agers sprinkled in from time to time. The youngest children can’t communicate their feelings of missing their parents, but kids as young as 1.5 years old have taken to the ‘Magic Watch’. Often, if a child would cry for their mom, or simply ask when their parent was going to return, I would deploy the ‘Magic Watch’s ‘ powers.

When a child showed distress or concern about when their parents would return, I would often either kneel down, or if the time was right, sit down with them and say, “Look at my watch. It’s magic. It tells me when mom and dad are coming back!” This would immediately catch their attention. I would then go through our day together so far. I would say, “Did we have center time when you came to school this morning?” and they will often shyly say, “Well… yes?” “Great! Did we have snack after that?””Mhmm…” “Did we have circle time?" "Yep!" " Did we have outside time after that?” “Yes.” “Are we at center time now?” “Mhmmm..” “Wow! So our day is already almost half way over! Next we will have lunch(looking at them for awareness), then nap time, then snack, then outside time, then Mom or Dad will be here super soon after that!!! That’s crazy!” Sometimes the kids would look at me and say, “How did you know that?” and I would say, “Well, my ‘Magic Watch’ told me, of course!”  For my smallest students, this doesn’t always work, but when it does, it DOES. They often will run up to me and grab the watch immediately upon my arrival in their classroom and ask, “Mommy come soon?” and I will sit down and go through the process with them. Often throughout playtime at the end of the day, kids would run up to me, "Is my mommy( or daddy) coming soon?" "Oh! She's on her way! I can tell, she's heading this way now!" Each and every time they would gleefully head back to playing with no problem.

At first, it was simply a way to get one child to calm down. Then, it became a tradition. When I left my job, I wondered, “Who is going to carry the torch? Who will have the ‘Magic Watch’?” The kids truly loved it, and I was actually worried that some of the kids would have issues understanding either where the ‘Magic Watch’ was, or why other watches couldn’t tell when mommy and daddy were coming/other teachers wouldn’t have a clue what that was all about. Then I realized, with one teacher’s going, comes another.

Before me, I am sure there was another great teacher/ floater who had an equally great way to help her students cope with different struggles the kids faced on a daily basis and clung to. Then that teacher left, and I came. This watch has been a constant reminder of what I left behind. When I looked down and saw that my watch wasn’t working properly and was waterlogged today, I both almost burst into tears, and realized that the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. This watch may need to be replaced fairly soon after it was bought, but I will always keep it as a reminder of a job I loved, and more so of all of my precious ‘babies’ that I have left behind.

Honestly, I didn’t realize all that I loved about my job until about 2 weeks before my last day. I stopped just going through the motions and truly soaked up every single moment with my students. I have seen some of these kids turn from tiny infants to vibrant, excitable, walking and talking toddlers. I’ve seen some of these kids go from small toddlers who could barely talk, to full-blown preschoolers, who blow me away with the kinds of imaginary play scenarios they come up with and conversations we have with each other. I’ve seen students that were in that especially challenging phase of toddlerhood grow out of it into that beautiful, exciting phase, and they are so excited about exploring the world and people around them. I’ve seen tiny bumbling toddlers learn their shapes, colors, ABCs, and basic language skills- it doesn’t’ get much more exciting than that. I’ve seen kids with special needs begin to soar with the support their teachers and our school offered them. I’ve seen teachers grow into truly great leaders of their classrooms, when they were brand new and still feeling it out when we first met. I’ve had my fair share of hard days, frustrations, and tears, but at the end, it was all so worth it. These people have become my family. These children were much more than just children I looked after, but I truly knew all 130+ children. I knew more than just their names, but what they loved, how they operated, what made them excited, what made them upset, who their friends were, how to get them down for nap, how well they usually eat, how well they sleep, and each of their little quirks that made each of them them.

My coworkers truly became so much more than just coworkers. Over the semesters, I was in and out so much, that I didn’t realize what I had. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to be there the whole summer. True, sometimes we were a bit of a dysfunctional family, but we were family. When I had a hard day, I didn’t have to hide it from my bosses, but I knew they would support me in any way they possibly could. I knew at any moment I had a handful of ladies I could go and talk to if I needed to about anything under the sun- from serious life issues, to silly funny happenings of my life. There were so many genuine people I met under that roof, who truly cared about me and what was going on in my life. I feel so blessed, as I have worked in places where it truly felt like nobody was there for anything but to get paid, which creates an apathetic work environment. This was far from that- so many of these teachers truly love the kids they teach and it shows.  I grew to love so many of my coworkers and my only regret is not spending more time getting to know some of them sooner. I was so jaded by my life outside of work, I didn’t see the people I had right in front of me until I was halfway out of the door.

It is incredibly bittersweet saying goodbye to this place that has become a ‘home’ to me.  I am so excited for the opportunities that are headed down the pike for me. I will begin this next semester on this coming Wednesday, when the teachers head back to school. I will start off in a Kindergarten classroom, which is both terrifying and sooooo exciting! I have such fond memories of Kindergarten and can’t wait to get going with my new mentor and students. It’s hard that I won’t be with my old mentor, as we expected, but it will be a good opportunity for me to stretch myself and challenge myself. In October, I will return to my 1st grade classroom with my old mentor teacher, which will be quite an adjustment to return to my old environment, but will be very exciting as well. Changes are coming and change is always difficult for me, but that’s basically the type of field I am entering. One that changes constantly and you have to adapt to each school year. I’ll get a new wave of students each year and say goodbye to these students that I have connected deeply with, then gain a new set of students, praying you have not only taught them, but touched their lives as much as they have touched yours. 

No comments:

Post a Comment