As a teacher, I had hopes - high ones - that I would impact the lives of a few of my students. I know that few kids like to read. Ok, this might just win Understatement of the Year, since the majority of my students would rather rake their eyes out with a rusty Garden Claw rather than read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, so I knew that few of my students would even like me, let alone look to me as a mentor.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
As with so many things in my life, I was wrong. I was wholly unprepared to have them impact my life. It was Christmas time during my first year of teaching, when I was irritable and a little weepy that I could not afford to buy each of my 168 students a gift, that I realized, with a little start, that I loved my students. Even the ones that made it really, really, I mean really difficult to love them, I still did.
This was not supposed to happen.
I was supposed to be the cool, consummate professional, whirling through my day, encouraging learning in many, a love of literature in some. Of course, since I teach English (if I am to follow the example provided my English professors), I would have to whirl dressed as a shepherd with dangling earrings, funky glasses and truly ugly shoes, but still ... I would be whirling. But my students had other ideas. They smiled at me, talked to me, were nice to me even when they were getting bad grades. Good Lord, what else was I going to do?
Four years ago I took on the job of being an adviser for the class who just graduated. We ran a booth at the fair, held fund raisers, decorated and rode floats in parades and threw red and black drink cups to the bystanders (I had to apologize to the one bystander who really wasn't expecting nor even wanting a cup, but one glanced off her head anyways), put on dances, cried together when we lost a student with the face and heart of an angel to cancer, and laughed so hard at least one girl peed her pants at least 900 times. This litany doesn't even come close to telling our story, but when they graduated it was one of the hardest things I have ever done: saying goodbye to all of them. It was different from when my oldest daughter graduated; I knew she'd come home at some point, even if it was just for homemade stuffing and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving (I put sour cream in them). I have no blood ties, no holds to make them come back so I can make them mashed potatoes.
But once again, wrong, thanks for playing.
They have come back. Some by emails, some by stopping by, some by seeing me in odd places, like the fair or the grocery. So when my Teacher's Assistant for three years, the one who babysat the Peanut and was her Kindergarten aid, walked back into my classroom, I died a little. Right there, in front of my third period, I died a little bit from happiness. Then, at our BIG football game against our rival, she comes to the game bringing part two of the TA Trio, which made me so happy I wiggled. Embarrassing, but, sadly true. Since the third member of this reunion of joy was too busy (yeah, babysitting, whatever) to be there, making it only the 2/3 best day of my life, I will post a ridiculous picture of him here:
Mess with the bull's happiness, you'll get the horns. And on this one, I am correct.