I've been at St. Patrick's this week, three days helping and then two days in sole charge of the years 2-4 class while their teacher is away. I've had so much fun. I'm exhausted, but I've loved every minute of it.
Thursday was my first day and I wasn't exactly a bundle of nerves, but I wasn't exactly the picture of calm either. Things went pretty smoothly with only a few tears (not by me). I had two highlights: one of the boys in year 4 wrote a little story and he had a simile in it. I was so impressed and he knew it too, so I gave him a Shamrock and told him it was because he was "motivated" (this week's virtue) to write such a good story for the competition. And the other highlight came after lunch when I did my first ever craft activity with such a lot of children (28 with one away). I had a secret thrill sitting on the mat and showing them what to do, hearing their exlamations of "Wow, oh, wow!" when I was finished. Such enthusiastic little critters and they set to work themselves on their mother's day project and all went well.
Today, Friday, was a much more nerve-wracking day. It was a celebration of mums and the childrens' mothers were invited for a liturgy, morning tea and activities. The first part of it went well, and I was secretly pleased to learn afterwards that one particular boy to whom I'd been told to attach myself at the church was "actually really good" today. And then I had one of those moments with a child: a little girl who's mum had told me she was really nervous about the liturgy but I honestly did not have a chance to talk to her about it beforehand. I did however say a prayer for her when she went up and then afterwards, lining up to walk back to school, she told me, "Mrs. D, my tummy hurts." I gave her a big hug and told her how wonderfully she read and shouldn't she be so proud of herself. I asked her if maybe she was still feeling a bit nervous, and yes, that's what it was. She told me all about the different animals and butterflies and bubbles which were inhabiting her tummy. I walked with her and assured her by the time we got back to school they'd all be gone. By the looks of her at morning tea, I was right. It was a special moment and I had a few more of those with her through the day.
It was a shared morning tea, and I mingled and chatted and then had a good talk with one parent. All the while I knew that the dreaded 2 hour interactive activity based slot was looming. The bell rang and I'm sure it was five minutes early. I got to class, called all the children onto the mat and encouraged the mums to sit at the desks. I estimated there were ten mums, without actually counting. I decided to read a little blurb from my Chicken Soup book about a mother seeing her little girl off to school for the first time, and then I took the opportunity to honour those mums for being there for their children and encouraged them all to really talk to each other and enjoy the activities together without rushing through. Ulterior motive there; I was paranoid about the time, not having any clue at all how long things would take. Then I took my time explaining all the activities; meanwhile, next door I could tell they were well into their activities. I wasn't in a hurry. But eventually I let them get to it. And it went splendidly! Perfectly timed with a few activity sheets to call upon for some of the children who finished early. I did have my share of challenges though, namely in some emotional girls who were upset that their mums didn't come, or upset that their mums had to leave. My own Madeline was a bit of a train wreck for some reason and I also had Sam in my room because his room was too noisy (for which I did in fact give his teacher a hard time, that his classroom was noisier than mine with the same number of kids!). The principal came in at one point to release me so that I could go see what was happening with Violet and Abigail in their classroom. I truly appreciated the gesture but declined because I felt that with Madeline and these other girls, I was needed where I was. And it felt good to be needed and in control.
Finally it was clean up time and then lunch. I was starting to relax, knowing that after lunch was buddy time and I was only required to assist as needed. Phew! By 3:00 I was absolutely shattered. And so were my kids. A quick text to Paul and I knew that pizzas would be on the way at 5:00. The five of us cuddled on the couch watching Stewart Little in the meantime. Dinner and then it was bedtime for them and bathtime for me. :) So nice to put my feet up at the end of a great working week. Back on Monday for more.