Four types of tears


(I started this on the last day of school for teachers)

In the past 48 hours I have cried. A lot it seems.  And I have discovered that there are really many kinds of tears.

First – abject sadness

I wept at my desk on Wednesday, exhausted from the stress of delivering the yearbook, having every niggling error pointed out to me by multiple people, not being able to find all the books that I was sure were in the building, and the fact that my lunch was a banana.  Our server was having sync problems, and I was trying to get an issue of the school paper to the printer so that we would have a “So long, and thanks for all the fish” issue.  I  knew that the next day would begin at 7:00 with wrestling with Adobe Acrobat Pro, 7:30 when 500 balloons needed to be inflated by the juniors, 10:30 the juniors needed to move down to the field for Morning Ex, 11:30 the picnic celebration for the seniors begins and had to be cleaned up by the juniors.  As Junior grade-head I was one of two teachers overseeing all this.

I was in the student publications office trying to figure out 1) why we couldn’t print the issue to our networked printer and 2) why the files were not syncing on the server when a senior found me to complain that his ad for his girlfriend didn’t get printed in the yearbook. “But I paid for it.”

Sorry.  We made a mistake.  We’re human.

By that time I was over-tired, hungry, hot from running all over the building in search of yearbooks – and done.  I sat down at my desk, put my head on my arms, and wept.  Not quiet little tears.  Weeping.


It took my commuting partner, Steve, to get  me out of the building. He said, “I’ll drive.” Good plan.

I actually didn’t make it out of the building before completely decompensating again when the senior grade-head asked, “Are you okay?” Nope.  Not okay.

Second – deeply moved

At the Morning Exercise (not actual exercise, but like Reading Exercise) on Thursday, the senior editors present the yearbook and its dedication to the school.  My sweet advisee who almost never speaks in class presented the dedication of the yearbook to a most deserving colleague.  I was so proud of her.  Her voice shook, but those little prickly tears started – like she was my own child.

And then the Editor-in-Chief presented the theme – Legend – and after explaining why we picked the theme, spent what seemed like forever thanking ME, in front of the whole school, for all the work, support, & care over their years at school (I taught them when they were in 7th grade) – and I don’t know what she said as the blood roared in my ears and I started to cry again.  And of course everyone is taking pictures of crying Kate because I had moved to the center of the field so I could see their faces when they spoke. All you had to do was hug me or look me in the eye that morning to get it to start again.

But then there was trash and recycling to manage, so back to business.

Third – /Hug

Two of my D & D boys graduated.  I’m going to miss these two a lot.  One used my room as his locker, and that’s okay because then I got to see him every day and check in on homework, sleep, nutrition. That day, after trash patrol for the picnic I went back to my room.  Almost everyone had left the building – prom was later that night – and on my whiteboard was this:


and his name.

I cried again.

Fourth – I’m not going to Spain or Antarctica, really…

At the upper school faculty meeting on Friday the head of the US said “goodbye” to the teachers who are leaving – and I guess, that although I am only crossing the courtyard, I am leaving.  He said such lovely things about me – and again those prickly tears at the backs of my eyes arrived.

My disconnect is this.  How is it that I can be so “beloved” on Thursday and Friday and have felt so abjectly sad and small on Wednesday? Too many teardrops.  I still can’t sort all of this out.

Photo Goodbye Stop by flickr member Peter Kaminski

But this is the real deal.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Liz says:

    You are an exceptional teacher, mentor, colleague, and in some cases substitute parent. You do it well, always, because you expect beyond exceptional for yourself. People have come to expect nothing less. You make it look easy and people take it for granted. It is only in being faced without you there that they are forced to realize the impact you have on their daily lives.

    Know you have made the children’s lives richer in so many ways. Know you have made your associates’ lives easier because you carry such a load and harder because you have set the bar so high.

    Relax and enjoy the summer. Read some young adult fiction and escape! You deserve it!

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Thanks, Liz – I know that you know this because it is the way your work/life is, but wouldn’t we just prefer it if we set the bar, everyone pitched in and did their best, and then we all retire to the bar and enjoy a beverage.

      I think I hear the library calling me… and a lemonade.

  2. Paul C says:

    ‘Tears are words the heart cannot express.’ The four types you describe so well are indicative of the end of a school year, after you have put your heart and soul into your profession for the last ten months. Thanks for a glimpse into a personal struggle and triumph.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Hi Paul – thanks for stopping by. That’s it, of course – putting heart and soul into something and watching it take flight. The children, the curriculum, the yearbook, my hopes and dreams for collaboration and collegial connection within and without my school building. It didn’t feel like triumph then, but I guess it is. Thanks for that perspective.

  3. Paul C says:

    Hi Kate,
    You are invited to join GPS (on my sidebar). It would be a pleasure to add you to the distinguished member list. Send me an email if you are interested.

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