Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Trip Down Memory Lane

It started raining.  Isn't that how it always begins?  You go to a movie or dive into a novel and the main character is sitting in a chair over a hot cup of somethin' and they start reminiscing.

Funny thing about that rain stuff.  I was sitting in my kitchen feeding Chubby Cheekers when I took a wee little glance outside.  I saw the rain and knew the cold front was coming through.  I did a bit of a shiver and decided to make myself a midday cup of joe.  Coffee in the afternoon is a very rare thing for me.  Generally, I enjoy my one cup of coffee on the way to school.  However, today was different.  I reached in the cabinet to grab a coffee mug, and I saw one that was given to me as a gift for Teacher Appreciation Week.

As I poured my coffee my mind started going back to my life as a teacher.  Students started flashing through my mind.  I smiled as I thought about the students who have become so successful as young adults.  I wondered about the students who I have lost touch with over the years.  And then I let it happen.  I let my mind start to think about those students.

Those students are the ones you want to take home.  You want to give them a fresh start.  You want to show them what real love is all about.  You want to show them there is so much more.  They can be more.  Do more.  Have more.

I think of the little girl who had so many unthinkables done to her that she would wet her pants every day.  Her body was so thin you could see her bones.  She would pull out her hair in chunks.  I can't tell you how many times I told her I loved her.  Hugged her. Told her she was special.  She moved halfway into her 5th grade year and I have never heard from her again.

I think of the boy who rivaled me in size.  He had so much anger inside him, it was not unusual for him to string out profanities.  To flip over a desk.  Chunk his backpack to the back of the room.  I told him everyday I loved him.  That he had a choice.  He could change.  He could be more.  Do more.  On the last day of school, he hugged me back for the first time.  He told me he loved me and said no one had ever told him he could be great.  He moved away that summer.  I haven't seen him since.

I think of another boy who woke himself every morning and got to school on time.  No one was ever home to help him get ready, or make him breakfast.  His home was so unkept and unclean that his clothes smelled of cat urine almost everyday.  He once walked to school in shorts and flip flops when it was 20 degrees outside.  He couldn't find anything else to wear.  He was also brilliant.  I told him everyday that he was loved.  I got him new clothes and stashed clean ones in the class so he wouldn't be embarrassed if he dressed himself in clothes his cats urinated on while on the floor.  This boy hugged me everyday with the kind of hug that knocks you over.  On the last day of school, he cried and so did I.  Over the summer DHS finally intervened and he went to live with his dad.  I haven't heard from him since.

It's stories like these that make my heart ache for kids.  I often forget that the kids sitting in Little Man's class may be experiencing the same things I told you about above.  It breaks my heart so much that I can't think about it too often.

I'm not sure why the rain brought my mind to such a place, but I am thankful I had the opportunity to tell these kids, not only that I loved them, but to show them real love.  It's a good reminder to me to teach my kids to show love to their classmates.  Even the kids they can't understand.  The school day could be the best part of another child's day.  The only part of the day where they feel loved and feel safe.  I hope my kids are the shining light for others.


Alice said...

This makes me so sad. I tell my kids all the time (and often need to remind myself) that we don't always know what happens behind closed doors and try to be kind to everyone. Be nice to the kid that others talk about, stand up for them, walk with them to a class, be their friend. This world would be a much better place if we would love one another like we are loved.

Ashley said...

Well you made me cry. My mother in law was a teacher (high school kids) for 30+ years and has told the same stories. My heart breaks for the kids and I would have been a big ball of emotional mess.