My first Field Day experience was a notable one, one I will never forget.
We had the kids rotate as full classes to five different stations. The first station was the Water Fun station. At this station, my kids got soaked head to toe. They played games like "pass the sponge over your head and get wet" relay, "walk to the bucket with a smaller bucket with holes in it and water dripping on your head" relay, and this really funny one where one student was sitting on a chair with a 2 Liter coke bottle, and the other filled up a cup with water, then ran to the student to pour the water into the tiny opening in the 2 Liter bottle. It was utterly hilarious. Not to mention, my kids thought it would be SUPER funny to splash water all over me and my shorts. However, the kicker part was that I seriously wanted to play too. I wanted to get drenched head to toe and kind of kicked into Camp Counselor mode, making my students cheer for one another every single time and jumping up and down. I had to remind myself several times today that it just wasn't professional to get soaked as the teacher.
The second station was the sack race and 3 legged race. I wish I had captured these moments on camera. Students were falling and flying EVERYwhere. There was one bigger student who was literally dragging another girl student across the field in the 3 legged race. And, of course, Kiwi insisted on doing the sack race backwards. He jumped, in the sack, backwards all the way very slowly and carefully. It was probably one of the funniest things I've ever seen.
The third station was a relay station with a huge rubber ball that the kids had to roll across the field, around a cone, and then back to the line for the next person. Trouble with this was that the ball was taller than some of my smaller students. I was out of breath running and puffing with my kids, trying to not let them go too far off the path to where they were in a different station they had gone so far off, and worked up a good sweat. Kiwi actually rolled over the huge ball and fell on his back. I stifled laughter but he was content and ok.
Our fourth station was a relay with hurdles and a baton. It was so cute to see my kids run hard, jump and clear (or, sometimes, not clear) hurdles, and work together as a team. I think that our class had the best cheerleaders by far, which, funny to say, was mostly the boys that kept cheering everyone's name the whole time. It was a really proud moment to see all of them pull together and root for one another like that. Nobody got angry at each other, nobody blamed anyone for anything. It was such a sweet time.
Last but not least was the TUG-O-WAR. This was so classic, in that one of the first grade classes has a really tall, bigger student who probably could single handedly beat any full class. It was hilarious to watch him just simply pull on the end and walk backwards and defeat any team. At the end, though, we had a boys vs. girls Tug-O-War where my girls faced my boys on the rope. The girls, proud to say, WON! It was one of the biggest celebrations of the day, but the fun part was when the parent volunteers and teachers played each other. My side won, naturally. I have some pretty stinkin' awesome and stellar parents who got their hands dirty on the rope and led us to victory.
My competitiveness came out today, but it was so, so cool how God helped me to rein it in. I was afraid that it would come out and I would get into my super-hyper-competitive mode, but for me, today went really well. It was nothing like my Mission Impossible experiences at Sky Ranch where I made it all about winning, me, and not the kids having fun. Because regardless of who won today or how well we did, my kids and I had a great 2nd-to-last day of school together. Field day was a blast; my kids almost knocked me over by dog piling around me in a huge group hug; I was able to run, jump, and help my kids; I bathed each of them with sunscreen this morning before going outside; it was a really interesting experience. I just kind of got a glimpse of how God must feel, so proud of his children in anything they do and just wanting them to enjoy life and what they are given. Not to mention, in that I also wanted the best for them, to take care of them and spend 20 minutes putting on the sunscreen I had actually brought for myself on all of their sweet little faces, arms, and legs. I have been blessed beyond belief this year, and I can't believe it's over tomorrow.
This week has been a really confirming and sweet one. I have outstanding supportive parents who have encouraged me all week with gifts, cards, and their presence in my classroom and events. I have 21 super, spectacular first graders who after tomorrow will be 2nd graders. I hope that I have prepared them well, but most of all when I look back at the past year, I keep asking the question: Did I love them well, and did I teach them how to love well too? I have realized that it is the character that counts in a person. You won't hire the smartest person or most talented person at something if their character is poor, if they are disagreeable or unkind. You're going to trust and hire or befriend the person with upstanding character and kindness and love. That's what I hope my kids gained this year-- an inside look at what that looks like and is supposed to be. It was so crazy writing in all of their yearbooks yesterday, taking careful time to write personal messages to each one. But I want them to be able to look back at that one day, maybe when they are feeling unloved, or like they have failed at everything, or that they won't amount to anything in life, and know that I love them. I think they are superstars. And that I believe in them, all of them, in all that they do and will ever be. I want them to know that there is at least one person out there who feels that way about them, and maybe it will make a difference. But most of all, more than anything, I pray that God sheds his sweet grace on all of them. I know that some of them will know Him, and some of them won't, but I pray for each of them that they will one day experience the sweet love of Jesus. I know that is a bold statement and maybe not one to make publicly, but it is true. Because even if they forget about me, they will still have someone who is their #1 fan, their #1 confidant, their #1 companion who loves them and believes in them more than anyone on earth possibly could. Yeah, that is my prayer for them.
So I think, before I start weeping here, that I will end with this. God, thank you for blessing me immensely with the past year of my life. It has made me more selfless, made me more into the likeness of you and into your image, it has shown me unselfish and unconditional love, and it has made me into a better person. I love these children so much, and thank you for sharing them with me.
Maybe I'll have more to say in reflection after the year truly ends, but this are the last words I really have. Tune in for my adventures sharing the gospel in Russia this summer for five weeks. Who knows what he'll do next?