Our first fieldtrip was a chance for me to learn what happens when you put faith in your kids.
They come through. All of them.
It went as well as it possibly could have.
My emotionally disturbed, lack of impulse control, self contained even during lunch babies were much better behaved than the 'gen ed' kids.
They skated the WHOLE time. They helped each other up, held hands if someone needed help balancing, supported each other in ways I had never seen before without me asking them to.
I took pictures and smiled and laughed and skated with them (for the first time in my whole life).
My plan was to not skate, but by 11 Joshua and Amanda were on their hands and knees begging me to be on the ice so I rented skates, said a little prayer (or 100) for myself, and braved this new experience with my kids. They surrounded me.
"We'll catch you, don't be scared," Elvis kept saying.
"You're doing great! Just let go of the wall," encouraged Iran as he skated circles around me.
"Go faster, you're never going to learn if you don't go faster," said Mario.
My kids....pushing me just like I push them.
Eventually I let go of the wall, then picked up speed, then helped other kids as they learned to skate. They boys couldn't resist the urge to teach me to skate faster and before I knew it I had Iran on one side and Mario on the other, holding my hands, skating around the rink, all of us with smiles on our faces, me praying I did not wipe out in front of my 13 year old students.
We were vulnerable together.
There was no making fun of each other, no put downs, no fighting.
Joshua bounced as he walked in to the park. "I'm so excited, I'm so excited, I think I'm going to explode," he said. I've never had someone squeeze my hand so hard...
Later, as he skated between another teacher and I, he put his head on my arm and said, "Ms. G, I love you."
"I love you, too Joshua," I replied.
"No, Ms. G. I really really love you."
I smiled and looked over at him. By now it had begun to snow. Joshua, my little 10 year old who spent the first 2 months of school sleeping on the rug because it was the only way I could teach the rest of my kids, had now earned a field trip. He went from refusing to write his name to writing entire pages in his kindergarten handwriting...from screaming when I asked him to subtract to begging for double digit subtraction to ''exercise his brain.'' He's changed. I've changed.
He skated and stuck his tounge out to catch snow flakes and hugged my arm. "This is the best day of my entire life," he said.
I didn't know what to say, so we just kept skating.
It could very possibly be mine, too.