I very clearly remember the first night we brought our daughter home. We had been on a long two-year adoption journey. We had waited for this moment for so many minutes. We loved our daughter before we even knew who she was.
And then that first night. I remember putting her in her crib. Looking at her. Looking at each other. And saying out loud, “What on earth are we supposed to do with her?” We knew in our hearts that we loved her right away, but it took a while for our minds to catch up. We needed to give ourselves time to fall in love.
And every year, in the Fall, I have to remind myself of this all over again. Because I have said that the minute that my students walk through my door, I love them. And yes, that is true. But while my heart might love them right away, my mind needs a few days and weeks to catch up.
Every year I forget this. Every year I expect that I am going to love my new students as intensely at the start of the year as I loved last year’s student by the end of the year. And it just can’t possibly be.
Because we haven’t yet had time to fall in love.
We haven’t yet had time to share books together and share jokes together and laugh together and find the rhythms of our days together.
We haven’t yet had time for me to learn about what makes them laugh and what makes them cry and when they need me to be there and when they need me to walk away.
We haven’t yet had time for them to learn that I really mean what I say. They don’t yet believe me that this classroom is ours and not mine. They don’t yet believe me that their voices matter in our classroom. They don’t yet believe me that they can be honest about what works and what does not work for them as learners and as people.
We haven’t yet had time to discover new things together and to interact with the world together and to struggle through difficult things together and come out on the other side stronger and more trusting of each other.
We haven’t yet had time to celebrate successes together. Or time to mess up with each other and say we are sorry to each other and forgive each other and see that we can still be okay.
These things take time and there is absolutely nothing that I can do to rush time ahead. And even if I could fast forward, it just wouldn’t work because all relationships take time to build. And the time that we are spending now is what is going to bring us all that kind of intense love that we feel at the end of a school year.
I am writing these words so that I can look back at them at the start of next year and know that this is just what it feels like to start. This is what August feels like and probably most of September. This is our getting to know each other phase. And we will soon move on from here and soon forget that this was a necessary part of building the community that will one day make us cry to say goodbye.
So for now, I must give myself time. I must give my students time. I must trust that before too long my mind will know what my heart already does. That I love my students because they are my students.