"How many years has this been?" someone asked me today on our annual sixth grade skating trip.
"Let me think about it," I answered. "I remember them by the injuries..." We eventually figured that this was number five, but not before a little girl fell and cut a couple of fingertips open on her skate. Despite the blood, it was no more than a band-aid injury. A friend asked me earlier in the week if we'd have an ambulance standing by, given our track record of stitches and sprains. "Shut up," was my witty rejoinder to her.
Still, there's something strangely satisfying about taking 200 sixth graders ice skating and to the food court, despite the inevitable exhaustion at the end of the day. This trip seems to offer the perfect balance of positive risk-taking and independence for the age group, and the kids love it, almost unanimously, despite the bumps and bruises and the gentle and not-so-gentle reprimands.
And each year as I lace up my skates with a simple prayer, Don't let me fall in front of my students, it gives me an appreciation of how hard it must be to be a kid in school.