After a hot shower, my achy body soothed and my sinuses temporarily cleared, I drive to work, not willing to miss the last day of school. Sunshine never felt so wonderful as I walk out onto the playground to be a "duty" one more time.
"You're here!" The exuberant call from the curly blond-headed seven-year-old girl comes at me just before the arms encircle my waist. "Watch me," she commands as usual and tugs at me until I follow her to the monkey bars. I watch her swing along on the rings and climb up onto a bar and then tell her that I am going to wander about and watch other kids too.
Suddenly a third-grade boy rushes over and gives me a huge hug, catching me off-guard as this is not something he has done before. "It's the last day of school!" he yells, and goes running. I guess it isn't his excitement that I am back after being sick at home. Then my blond shadow takes possession of me again, chattering nonstop as we travel across the playground.
"Mrs. H." A third-grade girl comes by and gives me a swift hug before going to play with a friend.
Bump. Batty's brother intentionally rams into me as he walks by, no words exchanged. It's kinda his way of saying "see ya."
Then my fourth-grade buddy hugs me and doesn't let go for a bit–she's sad that school is over.
The bell rings and I turn in my radio and walk to the 2nd grade entrance. On the way, a second-grader comes up to do our special secret handshake. If only all this love from the children could really make me feel better.
During the next hour I help the teacher with tasks around the classroom while she gets the kids packed up and ready to go and then reads them some stories. I can feel my illness trying to take over again, and I'm glad that school gets out early.
Finally I'm back in the sunshine watching kids while they wait for their rides. I'm feeling rather warm now in my sweatshirt. I talk to a couple of kids here and there but mostly just stand around waiting for the last car to arrive. Then I get one more hug, this time from an ornery little girl who spent most of the year calling me by someone else's name and getting into more trouble than a bunch of boys. Yeah, I'll miss her too.
It's time to go home and crawl back into my nest and continue to work on getting completely well. I'm curious to know what next school year will bring and where I will be.