Thursday, May 30, 2013

Those Killer Kids

Working with youth is killer. Leaving one group of youth to work with another is even more killer. It's like breaking up with hundreds of people-- that sounds kind of weird, right? But teaching is love. It's a weird kind of love, not--hopefully, please God--romantic love, but this labor of love that is very consuming.

That's what I did this school year-- my seventh year of teaching and my eighth year working with youth. I left students I truly loved in a place I was beginning to hate for a new group of students in an ideal setting. Kids are kids wherever you are, right? My current students are amazing and I'm quickly growing a new place in my heart for them. However, sometimes I think I should have moved to a new town for a job in this field instead of staying here. This break-up has been hard and I've left myself with the remnants of my first group of lovable youth: I see them everywhere I go.

I see them at the coffee shop, when they somehow find my email address and ask me if I'll revise their papers with them.

I see them at the grocery store, when they throw their arms around me and ask how I could leave and what happened and where did I go?

They're at the gas station, hopping over the counter to enfold me in big bear hugs while telling me all about college.

I see them on Facebook, when students I had six years ago wish me a happy birthday or students I had last year message me to make sure I'm alive and where did I go?

I see them sending me playlists on Spotify because a new album came out and they knew I'd love it.

Not to continue in this melodramatic vein, but it all kind of kills me.

Today I watched a mentee I worked with through four years of crazy hurricanes of ups and downs walk across the graduation stage and I nearly broke into pieces because I felt so happy. Someone touched me on the shoulder to say hi and I almost shattered from the sheer joy of that moment. When you're a teacher you hardly ever see the fruits of your labor. I felt like an effing overflowing cornucopia tonight. It's extremely difficult not to romanticize a job that treated you like shit when you loved one big part of it. After the ceremony, I couldn't stop crying-- but I couldn't decide if I was wholly happy, nostalgic, happy-sad...  I'm left feeling conflicted, and to be honest, kind of homeless.

Those kids are killers, let me tell you.

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