Long, slender fingers caressed the yellow scrapbook. With a gentle, loving touch they danced over the words, CLASS OF 2005-2006. A lump filled Laurie's throat and threatened to close it off as she stared at the album in her hands. Leaning back in her rocking chair, she pulled the thick book close to her. She couldn't believe in a mere three weeks a fresh crop of excited first graders would fill her class for the fifteenth time.
All summer, she had stared at this scrapbook, thinking how she was going to have to let these kids go and new ones fill her heart. Every day for the last eleven months, she had been praying for the children that filled this book. Soon she would start a new scrapbook, and had to release these children to God—but not before one final look, one final tribute to the children of 2005-2006.
Laying the book in her lap, Laurie stared at the pictures, with the childrens’ eyes full of wonder. There were Rachel, Lilly, and Shiloh on the first day of school. Rachel was a dreamer; she seemed to wake up in a new world every day. Lilly, on the other hand, was a born cynic with a perpetual rain cloud hanging over her. As for Shiloh, all she did was smile. Nothing ever seemed to get her down.
Laurie turned the page and found herself staring at the impish little grin of Brandon. Daily, he challenged her on a new front. She shuddered when she thought of the escaped lizard that ran amuck on the school bus during the class field trip. The high-pitched wails of the children still rang in her ears as she remembered herself crawling on the nasty, black floor of the bus, trying to retrieve the lightning-quick reptile. Not wanting to revisit any more of Brandon's shenanigans, she turned the page and found Carrie and Brian.
These kids were also challenges, but in a different way. They were eager to learn, but it came slow. A lot of work and patience went into helping them to graduate to second grade. For a while, it was touch and go whether Brian was going to make it, but he did.
Beside Carrie and Brian was a picture of Courtland dressed up for clown day. If any child was a class clown, it was him. He had an infectious smile and magnetic personality. Everybody wanted to be his friend—and they were. A giggle spilled out of her lips as she thought of how he came to school on Halloween dressed as a character from Saturday Night Fever and proceeded to teach her the hustle.
Flipping the page, she found the face of Tyler. This child was quiet and shy. He said no more than ten words the entire year. Every time she called on him, he would sink deep into his chair and his ears would turn the color of crimson. This shrinking personality made him an easy target for Donna. She was loud and boisterous, and always looking for a fight. Plus she never did any wrong. Many times Laurie had been berated by Donna's parents because she had punished their "sweet little Donna." Laurie made a mental note to say a special prayer for Donna's second grade teacher.
A few pages later, she found a picture of Scott. Scott was one of the sharpest kids she knew. He was easy to teach and learned quickly. Arrogance was his only downfall. Learning came so easy to him that he didn't bother learning to study. One day, she knew that would haunt him.
Next to Scott was Kylie. Laurie’s heart broke as the sad, brown eyes in the photograph seemed to plead for help. That help came one day in the form of social workers who removed her from school and sent her to live with grandparents in a different state. After Christmas break, she never saw this child again, but still prayed for her daily.
Laurie closed the book and rubbed her fingers across it one last time. Looking towards heaven, she prayed, "Lord, into your hands, I commit these children. Go with them into the second grade and into the world. Bless them and keep them. In Your precious and holy name I pray. Amen."
In silence, she placed the scrapbook next to the other thirteen on her bookshelf. She then picked up a sack that contained the parts and pieces of a new scrapbook.
(c) 2007, Rhonda Clark
Rhonda Clark is a stay at home mom of two and a freelance writer. She and her family makes their home in Bartlett, TN. For more information about her writing visit: www.freewebs.com/rhondaclark or contact her through www.faithwriters.com
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