In my seven years as a teacher, I've graded a million papers. Made smiley faces. Check marks. Plusses, minuses, and all the letters from A to F (minus E, of course). At this point, it's all so routine that I could probably grade papers in my sleep.
Still, nothing prepared me for the way my heart would swoop when I pulled my big boy's first ever graded paper out of his backpack.
I think I'll hang onto this, to soothe my soul ten years from now when he brings home an F on an English exam.