Way back when my hair was blond (not green) and I was way too perky for my own good, I began teaching second grade.
On an early September morning, twenty-five mostly eager little faces walked into my classroom. One in particular stood out.
Kirsten was a precocious, little girl. Big blue eyes, glasses, a Brownie uniform and lots of questions. At seven she could already spell circles around me...
"Ms. Gruppie? Doesn't cocoa have an a at the end?"
"Ummm, sure. I was ummm, just testing to see who was paying attention."
Eventually I learned that Kirsten and I shared a birthday. March 8th to be exact.
Then, I learned that Kirsten was also adopted.
After I heard Kirsten openly discussing her adoption with other kids I was an instant fan. Here was a seven year-old that was openly discussing something in a way that my twenty-three year-old self was unable to do.
As a kid I never told anyone that I was adopted. It felt like a secret to me. Even today when I tell people, they always respond with a hearty "Really?". They seem to be shocked that someone who is relatively normal and devastatingly cute could be adopted. These reactions have always made me feel different and strange.
Kirsten and I went on to have an annual pizza lunch together on our birthdays. A few other lucky Pisces joined and we even expanded the lunch to kids born on the 7th and the 9th. Can you imagine if I will still teaching? "Pizza party for everyone who was born in the winter!"
After I "retired" to stay home with my sweet little Girlie, Kirsten continued to invite Girlie and me to her birthday parties. Then to summer pool parties. Twice a year is the norm. Kirsten's amazing mummy Eileen really kept the connection going.
This year Kirsten is a senior in high school. I simply will not believe that she is old enough to drive a car and take the SAT's. I simply will not believe that I am old enough to have taught someone who has taken a college tour.
A few weeks ago Kirsten and Eileen invited my family over for lunch and some swimming. Where has the time gone? Kirsten now plays the role of a fun aunt and Eileen is the grandma who loves to spoil my kids. What happened to Kirsten being the little one?
Next school year I am sure that I will be baking cookies and sneaking five dollar bills into greeting cards for Kirsten when she leaves home for college. Someday she too may have her own little girl. When that little girl is in second grade and I hope that she will remember her second grade teacher and smile.