I went to school last Monday with an emotional hangover- much like most of the nation.
It’s hard to put into words the devastating emotion that we have all felt in response to the horrific events in Newtown Ct.
I walked into the building to prepare for the day, and attend a faculty meeting called by our principal and counselor. I’m sure we were only one of thousands and thousands of schools holding meetings that Monday morning.
We shared our thoughts and feelings, and were thankful to have protocols offered to us that were carefully prepared by our counselors that Sunday. We all had opinions and thoughts about how we would proceed during the day, but it was evident from the tears and thoughtful conversation that each teacher was prepared to help the children of our school with this traumatic event.
I went quickly to my classroom to greet the children, and was thankful that we had planned to construct “teddy bear gingerbread cottages” with our book buddies first thing in the morning! The teacher of the older kids had met me the night before at school, and we discussed how we might try our very best to ensure that the activity was incredibly fun, and free of any conversation about Newtown.
The children came into the classroom we met them at the door- wrapping them each in hugs. “It’s National Hug Day!” I proclaimed to each of them as I couldn’t stop the hugs.
The book buddies came down not long after, and the candy house activity was underway. It was a sugary, chocolaty, peppermint-y candy extravaganza! There were gummy bears on the floor, M&M’s flying across desks, icing around the mouths of many children, and so much powdered sugar flying that it almost looked like a fog had rolled into the classroom!
After cleaning up the room AND the children, we moved quickly into our Daily 5 Literacy centers, which happened to include a glittery snowflake project that just added to our crafty day.
We had such a busy day that for a moment, for a brief, glittery, sugary moment I had forgotten about the sorrow clinging to the souls in Newtown; until we were packing to leave.
Dismissal is typically a bit chaotic, but I always try to bid each of them goodbye before they dart out the door. I heard Poppy yelling my name from the middle of the crowd of children racing to the door.
“Ms. Smythe,” she shouted, “I’m supposed give you a hug. My mom told me to make sure I gave you a big hug today. I don’t know why, but here.” She wrapped her arms around me, squeezed and turned and raced out the door.
I thought about that mom, and how hard it must have been to put Poppy’s backpack on her and send her to school this morning.
I am pretty sure that we’ll all be handing out hugs for many, many days to come.