Maybe Goodbye Has to be Ugly Sometimes

My head hurts. This week has been painful. Many of my students aren’t themselves, easily agitated, disrespectful, messy. Monday morning I almost called in sick because I wasn’t feeling well, but I didn’t want to give up a single day of our last three weeks together. Today I’m singing a different tune. I love them but I’m ready for a break, even if that break means saying good-bye after our two years as a classroom family.

At first I felt really disappointed by the changing climate in our classroom. I blamed hormones, the weather, myself. Then I got to thinking. Maybe for some kids, this is how good-bye works. It’s easier to leave when you’re angry or things aren’t quite right, than when everything is routine, normal, happy. Chaos as a distraction. Rebellion as the final act of separation. I think I’m getting a tiny taste of what it is like to raise teenagers.

The time has come for me to let go. I will miss them, but I won’t miss this.

To be fair, good moments have punctuated the week as well. Today as I sat alone and watched them play on our field trip to Sac State, I felt at peace.

To be fair, good moments have punctuated the week as well. Today as I sat alone and watched them play on our field trip to Sac State, I felt both distant and at peace.

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17 thoughts on “Maybe Goodbye Has to be Ugly Sometimes

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head. Being ornery makes saying goodbye a little bit easier.

  2. kingmidget says:

    You hit on the magic word … teenagers … I have heard from more than one source the idea that the reason teenagers are such a pain is to make it easier to see them leave. My oldest is proving the point. 😉 As difficult as that is for me and the end of the year is for you, it is as it should be. Change is good. Change is inevitable. Change is for the best. Progress. Moving ahead. That’s what it’s all about. It’s called life. No doubt these final weeks will continue to be difficult for you, but it’s actually one of those difficult aspects of life that is good.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Thanks for the positive reinforcement that it’s all for the better. That’s what I’m trying to tell myself, it’s just hard to end like this.

      • kingmidget says:

        Endings are always hard. But, endings create the opportunity for new beginnings. And, with that, I’m done for the night. Far too sappy, even for me. Have a great Friday. Enjoy your kids. Revel in the moment.

      • oliviaobryon says:

        Haha, thanks. Enjoy your trip (I think it’s this weekend?), night!

      • kingmidget says:

        Nah. I’m taking the next week off to hang out at home and get some editing and writing projects done. The Mendocino Coast thing doesn’t happen until the end of July. My lack of patience is coming into play here.

      • oliviaobryon says:

        I see! I probably read that and didn’t register, with the holiday weekend I just assumed. Enjoy the week off though, that’s almost as good!

  3. Keep in mind all the goodbyes many of these kids have had to say in the past. For some, you’ve been a rock, something stable that has been there through thick and thin. You’ve tried to follow through on what you promise, and to stay firm even when you want to give in because you love them. This is how they are dealing, and unfortunately for you, it’s not so fun. Have faith and know that they do really love you, they’re just not too thrilled that this means yet another goodbye. Just know, they’ll take a piece of you with them, no matter where they go to school next year, and you’ll be in their heart. Stay strong friend. You’re amazing!

  4. jeffo says:

    When my daughter was in 2nd grade, we had to move mid-year. Her class was a very close knit, but in the last couple of weeks before we moved, she started becoming…the odd man out. No one was mean to her, but the dynamic had definitely changed. I think it was part of the kids’ process for coping with someone who was leaving, a way of making it less painful. I expect that’s what this is, too, just manifested a little differently (plus, there’s that whole end-of-year thing, too). Hang in there!

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience– so interesting to hear it manifest similarly for your daughter. We have such interesting mechanisms for protecting our emotions, even as children! 🙂

  5. I think you’re very right about their behavior changing because they anticipate a goodbye coming. Not to mention your kids are probably very eager for summer to begin 🙂

  6. melanie says:

    I do believe you’ve got it all figured out. The last days can be the longest and most challenging. I am feeling some love-hate, bittersweet feelings right now and I have to admit I am ready to just close the books on this school year and start fresh in August. I have been diligently working on ideas for next year and my new class (a few returners), in hopes, I think…of a clean slate and a new attitude. Have no regrets….the past two years were a gift to your students…you made a huge difference in their lives and I know they will take many lessons and memories with them.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Thanks Melanie, your words help. I think it’s just going to be a little extra hard because it’s my first group I have to say good-bye to, (minus my residency year, but that was different). Friday ended much better, so I’m hopeful that I can let go enough to give them the space they need to say good-bye. Helps to know I’m not the only one ready for summer 😉

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