Ever since I had kids I've worked from home, leaving my schedule flexible to volunteer at their school whenever needed. Plus I was so excited to help out my son's teacher while keeping an eye on how he was doing.
Early in the school year I got my first assignment to come in and oversee and in-class art project. There is no subject I love more than art. This was going to be a slam dunk...or so I thought.
I arrived in the morning with 2 hours to do what I needed to do and get home with our only car so my husband could get to work. The teacher handed me a full page of instructions so I could do the activity autonomously. Though an entire page of instructions was totally overwhelming to me, I was reassured that she was a seasoned professional with total control of the classroom.
First instruction: Gather chairs for the children to work in a group. No problem. I scanned the room, usurped some chairs from the U-shaped reading corner.
Second instruction: Do not take chairs from the U-shaped reading corner. Sigh.
So I committed to reading all the instructions before acting upon them. Isn't that what all instruction sheets demand at the beginning anyway?
Okay so I'm set up. I start quietly calling students over according to the groups specified. I butcher several names and the class is laughing hysterically. Not cool.
Meanwhile, my son is not even there. He has been called out of class for special reading instruction along with a few others.
The task isn't the type of project where the kids complete it in one sitting. No, they do a little, set it in the hallway to dry, go back to their seats while another group rotates in.
At this point I'm ripping off layers of clothes and throwing my hair in a ponytail. The teacher is totally composed and rotating students with total ease.
So as projects are drying in the hall, students are coming and going out of the classroom. But not my son - he's no where to be seen.
Then a group of five-year-olds, swinging reading bags, enter the classroom. I stare at the door waiting to see my son. But he doesn't enter the classroom with the other kids. I'm ready to phone in an Amber alert when I step into the hall with more wet projects. That's when I see him slowly walking down the hall beside a severely handicapped boy in a wheelchair. The other boy is being pushed by a special education teacher while my son carries on a conversation with the boy.
Now I had all I could do to hold in my tears.
Forget it, there was no way I could hold in my tears.
The special ed teacher tells me my son walks with them often and is always so friendly.
I have no idea.
Back in the classroom I have a crop of students who hadn't even started their project, I am an emotional wreck and it is time to get the first groups back to finish.
With 20 minutes to spare I have the whole project wrapped up, brushes cleaned, chairs returned and coat on.
As I b-lined out of the classroom, I see 5 unfinished projects still in the hall drying.
Hives form on my back. I'm convinced my head is going to explode.
Somehow I pull it off in 20 minutes. Hives and all.
And despite the stress, torment and looking like a totally incompetent fool, the image of my son walking down the hall with his friend in the wheelchair would live with me forever.
And since his teacher thankfully allowed my circus-act back, I continue to be a classroom volunteer.
If you've ever volunteered in a classroom, I'm sure you know what I#'m talking about, agree that teachers are in the trenches every day. If there is a special teacher in your life who deserves some some appreciation, check out the Pampered Teacher subscription box today!