Have I mentioned that I published a book with my class this year? Oh, only 100 times? I published a book with my class. There. 101.
Here it is. I love the way it turned out. (I can say that because my kids wrote all the words and one of my all time favorite parents snapped the photos.)
Have I also mentioned that my body shuts down when I have to speak to groups of people? In my head I know everything’s fine, that I am actually NOT going to die, but my body FREAKS OUT!!! Sweat pours out of my armpits, knee pits, shins, neck, and head. As my head lets the floodwaters loose, my curly hair which I have painstakingly straightened, kinks up into a tangled bird’s nest of curls. Then my voice starts to tremble and my hands shake. Which makes me sweat more. Which makes me shake even more. Which makes me sweat more. You get the picture. It’s horrifying.
So things like Back to School Night and Open House are nightmarish. A full room of parents expecting me to be knowledgeable, poised and sure of myself. Fat chance. The sure of myself thing I’ve got down pat. Wait, never mind. It’s the full of myself thing I’ve got down.
Anyway, those nights have always put my nerves on red alert. Until last night.
I have stumbled upon the secret to surviving Open House. No wait, I stumbled on the secret to making Open House fun. Open House and fun? Surely those words can’t exist in the same sentence. Hell has obviously frozen over.
Come close, I’ll let you in on the secret.
Our books arrived a week ago and all week long we’ve been giving copies to important adults. We presented one to our foster grandma. She cried when we gave it to her and has spent every afternoon showing it off at her senior citizens home. We gave one to our librarian who promptly put it on display. Our principal came down and we presented him with a copy. He talked with us about the power of words and later that day I noticed his copy in the hands of a few higher ups.
My kids were dying to take home their very own copy, but I made them wait. I made them wait all week, which is like 10 years in 6-year-old time.
Yesterday as they cleaned out their desks and made our room ready for company, I handed them each a copy of their book. They put it on display with their other work. Some kids had a few extra minutes before school let out. Know what they wanted to do? They wanted to sit and read their book. Let me tell you, my heart just about burst watching pockets of kids read their book, a book they’d penned with their own hands.
At 6:00 sharp, I opened the door and a flood of students and parents and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents rushed in. It was great to have so many people, but I was a little confused. Usually the extended family doesn’t make an appearance until our Spring musical.
Then it hit me, they were there because of the book.
As soon as I opened the door, kids tugged their parents by the hands over to their desks. They bounced and squealed as they showed their parents the page they’d written. Mothers cried. Grandmothers bought extra copies. Parents flocked to our photographer and thanked her for capturing such beautiful shots of their children. Dads shook my hand and mothers embraced me.
The room buzzed with excitement the entire hour. I walked around taking photos of the whole thing. Even with hundreds of people packed into my little classroom, I didn’t sweat a drop. My armpits were remarkably dry. My hair didn’t kink even the slightest bit.
It was a beautiful night, a night when proud authors released their book to a roomful of adoring fans. It was a launch party, first grade style, which was so much better, and so much less sweaty, than the dreaded Open House.