This post will inevitably be long - so before we get there.
It's about school.
And my littles.
And if that's not your thing or why you read around We Matter, come back tomorrow.

This post was almost called worry.
And I'm sorry to tell you dear blog reader, that there are a whole lotta tears dripping down my face as I write this.
Billowing out in my worry.
Desperately trying to make sense of things that don't always make sense.

Mrs Willard, my 5th grade teacher was, to this very day, the very best teacher I ever had.
She introduced me to Raffi.
And filled me with a voractious appetite for books.
She helped me fall in love with the Manatee.
And Matlida.
And Wait Til Helen Comes
She saw me.

She loved me.
Through divorce.
And abandonment issues.
And being brown and not fitting into my own skin.
That woman loved me.

No doubt, taken from her visit to my own classroom just a few years ago - she probably still does.

And truly, that's why I entered this profession.
To love children.
To teach them they matter.
And the great big world will most likely swallow them whole, but if they're lucky, they'll have a map and a book of matches.
And find their way out.

And I learned to be a great teacher from other great teachers, but I wanted to be someone's Mrs. Willard.
I wanted to love them enough to help them thrive.

Anyways, I am not paid to be their Mrs. Willlard.  In fact, in one of the saddest things I can think, she left the profession barely into her 30's.
I'm paid to improve test scores, and DIBEL, MAP, PARCC, ENVISIONS, PEARSON, and MCAS, etc.
And I do.
All the while loving them with everything I have.

It's what made this winter break so long.
Because I knew today, I'd have to go in and see who survived break.
Knowing that winter break would be a time for shuffling of all my homeless kiddos.
"Thank God," I thought this morning.
They were all back.
One through 18.

My lucky number 13.
The left part of my heart.
The ache stinging.

You know him.
The littlest guy.
My napleaon syndrome sufferer.
A smile that could light up a room of 100 watt bulbs.
Eyebrows that spoke volumes to you when he was mad.
And covered his face when he was sad.
My snack manipulator.
Vice President.
The one I'd carried out of the room in his chair the first week when he refused to leave.
The one who crawled all over the floor moo-ing and baa-ing when the space of room 115 was too much.
The one we all learned, all 19 of us, to be around when he was melting down.
The one we could ignore the mooing for because - everyone learns differently.
Who I love a little more than the others because I know he needed it.
And maybe I did too.
This summer DCF decided he could stay with his mother, and his three siblings in their hotel room.
I thought.
But really, I thought, I'd take him.
I'd take him in a heart beat.
Whose little dimples I worry about so much right now.
"There is nothing," I had said so many times, "nothing you can do could ever do to make me love you less, you know that, right."
Who never stopped grimacing about that.
That he was loved unconditionally.
Who would tell his mother I hated him.
Which was code for not really knowing how to be safe and loved.

In talking to my PIC - who is my partner in crime for a reason, I broke down tonight.
"You thought," he said, "that when he left, your worry would ease?!"
"Haha, please, you've thrust the kid you Mrs.Willard-ed into the biggest world of unknowns."
"What if his new teacher and class don't get him.  HE.  Get his humor.  See him.  What if he forgets?  What if being loved starts to disapate from his memory.  What if he goes to his next school and tells them I hated him, and they don't know that's code for loved him so much."
"I don't know," he said thoughtfully, "I think this one time where crying it

out is our best option."

And so, here I am.
Is out there.
Somewhere in the world.
Not thinking about us?
Dear God, SAFE.

I will sleep tonight on the tears of knowing that I tried.
I loved him.
Every adorable out of control part of him.
Right now, even the part that body slammed a kindergartner.
Maybe especially that fiesty part.
Number 13.
Is so so so loved.
He, #4, and #17


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