Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Miss Barbara

Sean called me after he dropped Lucy off at school yesterday 

He had a lump in his throat

Honey! What’s wrong?!

Nothing he says
Sean, what’s wrong, is Lucy ok?
He heaved a big sigh as he struggled to maintain his composure
She was sad, so was Miss Barbara
His voice was cracking, he sniffled and snuffled
Tears sprang to my eyes and that lump, that pesky old lump that makes its hard to swallow and impossible to speak suddenly grew at the base of my throat
I swallowed and said
Sean, she’ll be okay, they both will
I know he says, but her cubby was already changed over to someone else’s name, she spotted that right away
Oh, I said realizing how final that made it seem
Yeah, and she asked Barbara and Barbara told her some new friends were moving up
Neither of us said anything for a minute
Sean finally speaks
I think she’s really going to miss Barbara…and I think Barbara will miss her….what will she do without Barbara?
I know honey, but Barbara is right next door
Neither of us were really completing a sentence…we just sort of strung a few words together and trailed off
I took some pictures of Lucy and Barbara
Oh honey, that was nice
Yeah…they both looked so sad
Oh Sean
Well, they did he counters with a catch in his voice
How was Lucy when you dropped her off in the Octopus Room? I asked
Pensive he said, a bit…reserved…she doesn’t have her own cubby in the Octopus room, she shares with someone…and she……I left her in there without Barbara…
He trailed off again
My throat had closed up on me as tears slid down my face so nothing came out when I opened my mouth
I’ll send you the pictures said Sean
Please do, I’d like to see them
Ok then, well, guess I should let you get back to work
Yeah…..I’m sorry I didn’t go with you guys
I kind of thought you would he said
Never even crossed my mind Sean…..I don’t know why…
That’s okay he says, she’ll be fine, Jack will be there by now…she’s probably already laughing
Probably I say
We said our good byes and I held my phone in my hand waiting for the pictures to come through
When they did, the tears came hard and faster than I expected and splashed down on the screen of the phone
It took me a second to focus and when I did, I saw Lucy, all legs Lucy, perched on Barbara’s leg with a half-smile-half- grimace on her face
Her stuffed cat Togus is wedged in between she and Miss Barbara
Their heads are resting against one another’s as they leaned into each other
Barbara has her arms wrapped around Lucy – and she’s probably squeezing because Lucy says Miss Barbara always squeezes when she hugs
Lucy loves Miss Barbara’s hugs
Lucy loves Miss Barbara
What are we going to do without Miss Barbara?
When Lucy left Rika, we thought that would be the hardest move
We figured it would be the hardest because she was so young and so attached to Rika
We just assumed as she got older it would get easier
I think we thought it would be easier because she’d be older so she’d have a better grasp on the concept of moving up to a new room
We thought it would be easier because who is not excited to move up to a new classroom with more books, better toys and in general, cooler big kid stuff
What we did not anticipate was Miss Barbara
From the time Lucy entered Preschool I, she prayed for two things: to be a Classroom Helper and to hurry up and move to Miss Barbara's room (Preschool II)
It's not that Lucy did not like her teachers in Preschool I, it's just that Miss Barbara was, in Lucy's eyes, a rock star
From the moment she met Miss Barbara, it has been
Miss Barbara this
Miss Barbara that
Miss Barbara said this
Miss Barbara said that
Miss Barbara is so pretty
Miss Barbara is so smart
Miss Barbara taught me this song
Miss Barbara read this book
And it never once drove us crazy because all that Lucy said about Miss Barbara, well, it’s all true
Lucy fell in love with Miss Barbara
She loves, adores, and admires Miss Barbara
Even while Lucy was in Preschool I, all she wanted to do was make Miss Barbara proud of her and happy
All Lucy wanted was Miss Barbara’s love, approval and acceptance
And Lucy, along with countless other lucky kids, got just that
When Lucy was finally moved up to Miss Barbara’s room, Preschool II, last September, she was over the moon
She was awestruck
I remember telling her on the drive home she would be moving up
Hey Lucy, guess what?
Yeah Mumma?
Mumma! Just tell me!
Guess who's moving up to Miss Barbara’s Room??
A smile spread across her face and her eyes opened wide....
What Mumma?
Honey, you get to move up to Miss Barbara's room!!
What did you say Mumma?
You're moving up to Miss Barbara's Room!
What? What Mumma?!?!
You're moving up to Miss Barbara's Room!
Lucy tucked her chin sheepishly into her shoulder and her smile grew even wider
She did not say a word
She just gazed out her window, her eyes looking upward with a smile on her face
Can you believe it Luce? You’re moving up to Miss Barbara’s room!
Lucy took a deep breath, sighed and responded in her smartest, crispest, clearest voice:
Miss Barbara is so lucky....!!
Lucy could not contain herself and was just bursting by her first official day in Miss Barbara's room which we learned would be the Peacock Room
The weekend before she started in the Peacock Room, she decided she wanted to make something for Miss Barbara
So we made her a peacock picture complete with googly eyes and pom poms for eyespots on the feather
Miss Barbara hung the picture up straight away
It is almost a year later and that picture still hangs on the wall
Lucy points it out to me at least twice a week
Mumma! Remember when I made that for Miss Barbara?
I do honey
Mumma, remember when I became a Peacock?
I do Lucy
Mumma! I love Miss Barbara!
I know honey, I know you do
Lucy is quite proud her peacock still hangs on the wall
And this Mum is quite touched Miss Barbara left it up there
Its things like this that make Miss Barbara Miss Barbara
You know what else makes her Miss Barbara?
Her laugh which is warm, inviting, infectious, and comforting all at the same time
When the kids hear it their faces light up and they themselves collapse in fits of laughter
Her eyes that dance when she’s telling a story, narrow when she’s listening to your concerns as a parent and get wide right before she breaks out in peals of laughter
Her voice which is animated, loud, soft, soothing and full of love and life
Her gestures that are exaggerated, sweeping and dramatic make the story that she is telling and always make the point hit home
Her unconditional love and unwavering patience for all the children and parents who parade through her classroom
Her catchphrases:
Each said in a certain tone with certain sweeping gestures that Lucy can imitate perfectly and uses in context
The way she encourages the kids to sing and dance
The books and stories she picks out especially for her kids…always it seems with someone in mind who could really use the lesson the story has to tell
And her heart
Barbara has the biggest heart
She has a heart so big all the kids in her charge….and their parents…..fit in with room to spare
And we all vie for her attention and affection…I am of course talking about the parents….and we all get it
I think it speaks volumes about a teacher when the parents want her approval and attention as much as the kids do
Lucy came home every day with new Miss Barbara stories:
The time Ernie pooped on the carpet
When her daughter came to visit the class
When Miss Barbara got her new puppy Phoebe
How Barbara taught the kids yoga
The Kindness Kisses she passed out
Miss Barbara’s vacation
How Miss Barbara found Penny the Peacock
The time one of the dogs (I think it was Ernie) took off with Penny in his mouth 
Miss Barbara’s favorite sweet treat (whoopie pies and brownies)
How Miss Barbara had to hide the M&Ms and Kindness Kisses so Miss Lynn would not eat them
And the books Miss Barbara would bring in – oh how Lucy loved the books Barbara brought in – and Lucy was convinced Barbara had her in mind with every book she picked out
And for all I know, she did
When we first started in Miss Barbara’s class, she had a second teacher with her called Danielle
Danielle left right around Christmas
Miss Jenny came on board shortly thereafter
And Lucy took to Miss Jenny straight away
Like Miss Barbara, Miss Jenny is smart and pretty and sings and dances
She cuddles, snuggles, kisses and hugs the kids just like Miss Barbara does
And Miss Jenny also draws the best pictures ever
We have a pile of pictures Miss Jenny drew for Lucy – three are waiting to be framed
Jenny will be Miss Barbara when she grows up
She has that way about her….that….just that presence….that being
I hope Lucy grows up to be just like Jenny
When Lucy found out she was moving up to Pre K, she was so excited because Miss Julie was FINALLY going to be her teacher and in Miss Julie’s room, they have Legos AND Star Wars books
That bliss lasted 30 seconds
Then her face fell and the corners of her lips dropped down
Honey? What’s wrong?
What about Miss Barbara……does she know I’m going to the Octopus Room?
She does honey, she and Miss Julie talked about it
Does she want me to leave the Peacock Room?
No honey! Oh Lucy! Miss Barbara would want you to stay forever but remember, you’re 4 now, you’re getting bigger and when we get bigger, we move into new classrooms so we can learn more and more…..
And so the little kids get to move up and learn too?
That’s right, we have to make room for the little kids because just like you’ve been waiting to get to the Octopus Room, they’ve been waiting to get to the Peacock Room
What about my mailbox?
Well, we’ll see what Miss Julie has in her room
What about my cubby?
You’ll have one in the Octopus Room
But who will take care of Miss Barbara? You told me Miss Jenny is leaving too and now no one will be with her anymore
Oh Luce, honey Miss B will be okay, the other Peacocks are staying
But Mumma, she will miss me and be sad……and who will hug her now? And you said I give her a run for her money…who will give her that now?
Lucy, Miss Barbara will be just fine and if she misses you, she’s right next door so she can sneak in and get a hug from you
But what If I miss her?
Lucy, you know what, Mummy is going to let you in on a little secret: missing someone is the best thing in the world!
No it’s not Mumma, it hurts my heart here (points to her chest) and makes me sad
Oh, honey, I know
I miss you when you are at school every day and it makes me sad
But here is the secret part: do you know why missing you is the best thing in the whole world?
Lucy kicked at the ground and leaned into me as she shook her head no
I stood her up and lifted her chin so we were looking at one another:
Missing someone is the best thing in the world because you realize, you know, how much you love them and how happy they make you
When I miss you Lucy, I just think about you and it makes me smile
And sometimes makes me laugh out loud because I think of something you said or did
You do Mumma?
I do Lucy! I laugh right out loud and someone will say what’s so funny?
And I say well, this morning, Lucy told me a story about how Ernie pooped on the carpet!
That was so funny Mumma!
When Ernie pooped and Miss Barbara called her daughter and said
Hello! Ernie pooped on the carpet!!
I know!
That story makes me smile and laugh and I know that even though I miss you, when I see you, when I pick you up from school, you’ll have even more funny stories to tell me
I know when I pick you up, you’ll have all kinds of new things to tell me and new pictures you made for me and Daddy….
I know you’ll give me things I did not have this morning…….
That, Lucy Ellen, is why missing someone is the best feeling……
You think of them when they are not there with you and you know when you see them again, you’ll have a kinds of new things to share with one another!
So Miss Barbara will tell me new stories when I see her?
She will, and you’ll tell her new stories about the Octopus Room and what you’re learning
Will Miss Barbara still want to hear about them because she’ll have new peacocks in her room….what if she likes them better?
Lucy.....you know what makes Miss Barbara so special?
Kindness kisses (Miss B would give Hershey Kisses when she caught some one doing something kind)?
Yes, kindness kisses…but you know what else makes her special?
Lucy shook her head
Miss Barbara is special because no matter how many kids she has, no matter how many peacocks come in and out of her room, she loves all of you
And she will remember all of you
And she will miss all of you
Miss Barbara is special because she has a heart so big….
Lucy interrupts me
This big Mumma?
She throws her arms out as wide as she can
Yes Lucy, that big!
Miss Barbara’s heart is so big everyone fits in it
And even of you think there is no room, Miss Barbara will make room
That’s a big heart Mumma!
It sure is Lucy
Hope it doesn’t get too big Mumma!
Then how will Miss Barbara walk?
She’ll fall right over!
Whoaa Whooaa…….
Lucy starts to walk away from me tipping to the left and then the right like she is trying to keep her balance and she’s giggling at the same time
Much like her Dad, Lucy laughs at her own jokes
So by now she’s laughing at the thought of Miss Barbara having a heart so big she can’t even walk and I know that for now, we’ve moved beyond the emotional trauma of leaving Miss Barbara’s room
When I picked Lucy up last night, her new teacher Miss Julie told me Lucy had a pretty good day but did not really eat lunch
We chalked it up to the fact it was Lucy’s first full day in the class room (last week, she split her days between Miss Barbara and Muss Julie’s rooms)
Miss Julie reiterated that Lucy seemed to be settling in and we’d just take the next few weeks as they come and adjust as we need to
On the way home, as we chatted about Lucy’s day, it started to rain
By the time we pulled up to the house, it was coming down so hard and fast we decided to hang out in the car to let it pass
The thunder and lightning started within minutes of us pulling up to the house
Lucy had climbed out of her booster seat and was sitting on the console in between the front seats
Mumma, did you know Miss Julie likes thunder and lightening
I didn’t honey
Well, she does……and she’s not scared of snakes
Oh ok, good to know
Miss Barbara doesn’t like snakes
Yes, I remember I say
Sure is raining hard Mumma
It sure is Lucy
I hope Phoebe (Miss Barbara’s dog) is not outside, she would get all wet
Well, I’m sure Miss Barbara remembered to take her inside
Maybe tomorrow I could go visit Miss Barbara
Sure Luce, if you want, just ask Miss Julie
Will Miss Julie be sad if I go see Miss Barbara?
No honey, she won’t be sad
‘cause I like Miss Julie Mumma, I just miss Miss Barbara and Miss Jenny
I know honey
Do you stop missing people?
Sometimes honey, but mostly no
If you stop missing them, do you still love them and think about them?
Forever and always
Yes Lucy
Will you and Daddy always stay with me even when I get bigger?
Yes Lucy
Will you live far away like Noni and Papa and Granny and Grandpa do?
Hmm, I don’t know Lucy…..maybe it will be you who moves away…..
No Mumma, if I move away, who will read me stories?
Good point Luce
Do you miss Noni and Papa?
I do Lucy, and Daddy misses Granny and Grandpa too
But you still happy Mumma?
Yes Lucy, I’m still happy
Do you miss Barbara Mumma?
Yes Lucy
Me too…..Lucy sort of pats my hand…..Mumma?
Yes Lucy
I love you
I love you Lucy
I love Miss Barbara too Mumma
I know Lucy
Can I tell her tomorrow?
Sure Lucy……
Mumma, the thunder stopped
It did
Should we go in now?
Sure honey
Mumma, you know what Miss Julie said today………….?
Maria the Mum

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