Embrace the Bitter, Lean into the Sweet

This year we ended our time together in Kindergarten without being in each other’s physical presence. That was hard. During the preparation for our end of year celebrations, and during the many goodbyes, I had to deepen my breath, and hold onto their bright eyes in our zoom calls.

True to form, it was a bittersweet moment. My love and respect for them always intensifies the bitter. But this year, their thoughts spoken during our celebration intensified the sweetness, and soothed my aching heart.

Yup the bitter remains, but the depth of bitterness only reflects the depth of our love and the sweetness we shared. We are a community. We love one another. We have shared so very much. To honor all that, I’m choosing to embrace the bitter, and lean into the sweet.

It was wonderful to see each Kindergarten face, and hear their shouts of greeting on our end of year zoom call. But, my favorite part, was listening to them share about Kindergarten — this was a new addition to our end of year celebration.

Each girl shared answers to one, or all, of these questions. What did she LOVE about Kindergarten? How did she surprise herself? What is she most proud of from Kindergarten?

As each girl’s face popped onto the screen, I watched them intently from afar. I leaned into the screen as they spoke. And, I celebrated!

I want to share our celebration with you. Here are just a few of the things that were shared and celebrated.

  • My favorite part of Kindergarten was dance. I thought I couldn’t do dance moves, but I did it!
  • My favorite parts of kindergarten was doing math sentences, publishing my writing, coloring, and art.
  • I enjoyed “play to learn” because it was mostly playing with my kindergarten friends. 
  • I didn’t think I would be able to learn how to count coins, but I tried really hard and I did it!
  • I thought Spanish must be hard as it is a foreign language. Turns out it is not so hard, and now I know I can do it!
  • I never thought I could make the art pieces that Ms. James made, but she taught us how to make them, and I did it!
  • At the beginning of the year, I could only go 1 bar on the monkey bars, but now I can go across the whole monkey bars.
  • I am most proud of being able to present in front of a crowd of people. I do not get nervous anymore!
  • I love Science, we did lots of activities, we put the white thing into the cola, then it exploded. And we had safety goggles. 
  • I didn’t think I could, but I learned how to tie my shoes. 
  • I didn’t think I’d be able to do 3D shapes in Math class. It’s hard to remember names of 3D shapes but I did it.
  • I am most proud of learning to read. 
  • What I LOVED about Kindergarten was being together! Working hard, playing fair and being AWESOME together!”
  • I am most proud of all the math I learned. 
  • I did not think I could draw, but I can,  and l love art
  • I loved that all my friends were in my class. I loved that I was still able to see my friends on zoom.
  • I surprised myself by making new friends and writing poetry.  
  • I’m proud that I made it through the whole year of kindergarten!
  • This year in Kindergarten I am so proud that… I NEVER GAVE UP!

Sharing them here allows me to listen once more to their words. My celebration is even deeper the second time around. I hear their joy, pride, and confidence. I am buoyed by the many ways they have grown, overcome, learned, and discovered — and any part I played in that.

Spring 2020 remote learning/teaching was different, difficult, time consuming, and energy draining. But it was also profoundly wonderful, beautiful, creative, and filled with reasons to celebrate. It was filled with learning, thinking, wondering, joy, discovery, growth, and beautiful relationships.

And, that is very, very good.


9 thoughts on “Embrace the Bitter, Lean into the Sweet

  1. What wonderful celebrations! So much goodness in their responses. And what I wonderful way to think about bittersweet!


  2. Molly James (aka maifoil) it is always with pleasure that i receive your blog posts. It has been along time since Italy, but I treasure the memory of your presence. I am retired 10 years, living in FL. My husband is ill, and I am his FT caregiver. We survive, fortunate to own our own home, relatives nearby to assist, food in the fridge, a great dog to keep our chi high, and scared of course by the COVID-19, since we are targets-especially my husband Howard. Be well, Grace Ibanez Friedman @ 2227 Mayfield Palms Lane, Sun City Center FL 33573.


    • GRACE!!! I am so glad you read and enjoy my writing. It has been a long time, but I do treasure that time and all the wonderful people! You and your husband are in my prayers for sure. I’m glad although there is fear/concern there is also an abundance of goodness and blessing!


      • You not supposed to admit to this, but teachers and parents always have favorites. You were among them, one from each trip I lead. Your group was really two, SJU & non SJU particpants, the non SJU were more sophiticated learners and in retrospect you needed a more rigorous experience. Which we sadly didn’t provide. Tant pis. We didn’t have the numbers to create two tours. I learned so much from that experience. My husband and I thank you for your prayers. We certainly need it. Howard has 18 documented conditions. one third involve the immune sytem He’s 78, and while sound of mind, beginning with his amputation and kiddney function we are on constant alert. But you know fhis from your own illness. Keep the creative flow coming, you truly inspire me. Blessings to you and your kindergarten girls. They learned a lot this year from you!


      • Aw, thanks, Grace your admiration, and your acknowledgement of our learning means a lot to me. Do not fret about the experience. I learned SO much from the remarkable Italians you introduced us to while we were there. I just came upon the journal I kept. I want to go through it with the eyes, mind, heart I have now, see what I have forgotten and what else I can learn. I will be blogging so stay tuned. It really was an exceptional experience. Do you keep in touch with anyone from Italy?


      • I did for awhile but that’s over now for some time. They were such
        exceptional people.


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