The Love Bug

I’m not going to write about that besmircher of bumpers Floridians call love bugs. My love bug is a hand-made craft using cork and foam hearts hot glued together to resemble a butterfly. As background information, every February my school organizes a fundraiser in which people buy lollipops and hand-made “love bugs” for their friends, teachers, families, etc. The funds go toward school events. This year the lollipops and love bugs abounded, with a veritable colony of students buzzing about delivering the edible and/or decorate-able tokens. I received mine gladly, each lollipop adding to my treat jar in the classroom while I saved the heart-shaped notes and put them in my rainy day file.

The rainy day file is a file of notes, letters, illustrations and student or parent-created missives that many teachers keep on hand to remind us why we teach. When life gets dreary, when too many meetings have overlapped, when deadlines loom too large, it is common (and common sense) for us to look through our file and recharge. Last week, the testing schedule had me internally reciting my own version of The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock:

Let us go then you and I
to test and retest until we feel like
patients etherized upon a table.

I grew old last week, measured out my life in coffee spoons, and didn’t really talk much of Michelangelo (all T. S. Eliot). I felt depleted. Smooshed. Crushed under the weight of the testing mill. I could only imagine – or project—how the students felt. This, for anyone who wonders, is not why people teach. This is why people quit teaching.

When I’m fatigued, or in this particular case, burnt out, I tend to feel a little disconnected from my daily life, which is why it’s no surprise I began playing with the phrases of good ole J Alfred. Then it happened: I was returning to my classroom when I noticed a hand-crafted love bug on my ramp. It had been rained on, but was still intact. I picked it up to throw it out and noticed that it was addressed to me and contained a note from a friend. It must have fallen out of the goody box when my lollipops were delivered in February. I chuckled, thankful that my portable protects dropped objects from the elements.

The love bug reminded me of the need to stay connected with others, particularly during stressful times. I wonder how much I have hunkered my head down these last few weeks rather than express my gratitude and appreciation for those around me. A heartfelt note or text might make the difference in someone else’s day, or at least in how they perceive it.

I thanked my friend belatedly for the love bug, and I have now committed myself to deliver a love-bug note to my colleagues and friends over the next few weeks. It’s not going to change how any of us feel about testing, or about this time of the school year, but I am absolutely certain that it doesn’t hurt someone to let them know they’re important, loved, appreciated.

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