Today I want to write about something unexpected, something that I think all teachers go through from time to time that we just don’t see coming. This weekend, I held a baby. A beautiful, almost year old, baby. She was beautiful and she was sweet. She laughed and ate bacon from my hand as her brother and sisters worked on a craft project. I even gave her a nick name. And then I found out. I found out her father was a former student. That is not a typical story, but the next part is. Her father is in trouble. He isn’t home and won’t be, for a while.
With the onset of modern technology, we have the ability to be “around” our former students. We get to watch them grow up and have real lives. Before I go on, I do want to clarify. I am not “friends” on Facebook with any former students who are not over 18. Once they are adults, I will follow them. This is, after all, part of being an adult. I am friends with one of my former teachers, the one who probably impacted me the most in my life. I can never thank her enough for simply doing her job. It was that very passion that more than likely lead to mine. And she is but one of the 6+ elementary teachers that spoke into my career and helps still, to this day, guide what I do. Being friends with these now adult former students is an opportunity to do the same thing. I write them “Happy Birthdays”, “Keep studying”, “Congratulations”, and more recently, “Oh, should I spoil all this fun and tell you that you only fill in a little box on "real" lesson plans!” I have also written, “Your baby is beautiful.” And that where this post is leading me.
With all those wonderful things that students do, I think seeing some of them become parents is amazing. It is, after all, the most amazing thing a person can do. And this little baby, she is a part of me. I know that sounds “weird”, but how many times do we meet former students and we go right back to that moment, right back to knowing that kid and loving that kid, even though they are adults. We hear about their lives and take pleasure in knowing what they are doing. Yet, presented before me is a struggle in life. I think we forget that former students struggle. But, it won’t change my feelings the day I do get to see her dad, because he’s coming home. I will hug him and tell him the same things that I would tell one of those students who’s lives seem to be together, “Your daughter is beautiful.”, “Her mother loves you and wants what’s best, “ and “I don’t care what you have done, I care about you!” So, I think that’s the thing that I’m taking away from this opportunity. Strugglers are still ours, they still matter to us. And, more importantly, we might be the only ones in their childhood life that do. When you see that adult students, just ask yourself, what really matters. Right now, to me, that’s simply to love that child where they’re at, even when it is not the pretty picture we hope it to be.