Today was hard.
Today, I passed out caps and gowns to my seniors.
In a mask, socially distanced, with some of my best teacher-friends.
And not hugging every single kid was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a long while (and I suspect I was not alone in this). Some of these kids show up to Zoom chat almost every day. Some I see when I walk through my neighborhood. Some I know will be life-long friends. But some, I haven’t seen since March 13, and I wonder if I’ll ever see them again.
The problem is — I LOVE my job. It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to be. Teaching isn’t something I just fell into; it was a hard-fought, conscious choice. And I love my kids.
And I’m used to working so hard to make graduation perfect for them. Every year, I work with valedictorians on speeches and comfort the ones who *just* missed it — because, in case you’ve forgotten, Calculus is hard, y’all.
I will never forget working graduation as a first year teacher positioning chairs on the field with a ruler so they’d be perfectly spaced — while a seasoned veteran bellowed instructions using a bullhorn from the stadium seats.
Or the year it rained right before the ceremony started and I dried all 200-some-odd chairs with old towels the football coaches found for me so that no kid would have to sit in a puddle. Or the year it rained DURING the ceremony…
I could go on, but watching the sun set over the stadium while 200 kids I love cross the stage is truly one of the best parts of teaching seniors.
Graduation is the longest day of the longest week of my teacher-life… and I would give A LOT to be able to make it happen this year — even in July.
But for today, I sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine. And rode bikes with my 10 year old. And made myself the Old Fashioned that my great aunt — one of the strongest, smartest women I know — taught me one Thanksgiving a long time ago.
And yes, I shed a few tears for the class of 2020. They will forever be in my heart, and I hope that this experience only makes them stronger, more empathetic, and even better equipped to make our world a brighter, healthier place.
Aunt Glenna’s Old Fashioned
- 1 tablespoon simple syrup (see below)
- 1 1/2 ounces good bourbon
- 1-2 dashes Angostora bitters
- 1 maraschino cherry (Luxardo preferred)
- 1 piece orange rind
- Make the simple syrup. Bring 1 part sugar and 1 part water to a boil. Allow to cool to room temperature. *Usually, I prepare a cup at a time. This keeps well in the fridge in a mason jar, but on more than one occasion, I’ve had a friend ask if it was moonshine. So labeling may be key.
- Pour 1 one scant tablespoon of simple syrup into an old-fashioned glass. Add the bourbon and bitters and stir. (“Not too sweet!” — Aunt Glenna).
- Add ice.
- Garnish with the cherry and a piece of orange peel (not a whole slice, because, in the words of a my aunt, “It’s a cocktail. Not a fruit salad.”)