Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Things I Remember

This time of year causes me to wax nostalgic – it always does.  I assume it comes from having taught school for twelve years.  Things always end in May.

If you’ve never taught school before, you may not be able to relate to this idea.  I have a tendency to get attached to my students.  Perhaps it stems from not having children of my own, or perhaps it’s because I truly want what’s best for ‘Newman’s Own’ and take on more responsibility than I should.  Maybe it’s a combination of the two.  I don’t know, but I do know this:  Facebook and other forms of social media are great when it comes to keeping track of ‘the kids’, who by now are not kids anymore.

I read their posts and am amazed by what they’re all doing now.  They’re scattered all over the world, living, loving and succeeding.  The trouble I have, though, is thinking of them as adults.  They remain in middle school as far as I’m concerned, and I am absolutely bemused when I receive college grad announcements, wedding invitations, and word that they’re having children of their own.  A rush of memories befalls me – most of them good, many of them hilarious, and a few that are quite bittersweet.

One of them just graduated from med school.  I recall him always having a runny nose back then.  I hope his studies have helped him clear up that situation.

One of them has become a bit of a spiritual guru.  He never handed in his homework whilst a student in my class.  Even back then, I think he sensed what was really important.

The ham in class is now a ham on stage.

Other things I remember: 

The brothers who made my classroom an absolute delight with their enthusiasm for all things fabulous, who were not a delight to their older brother who was forced on more than one occasion to physically remove them from my room after school. He had places to be, I suppose, and a middle school classroom was not one of them.  I did not teach the older brother, but I liked him very much, and my heart goes out to his family on his tragic passing.

The trip to London in which a young man carried a pair of underwear around in his pocket because “Mrs. Newman said if it’s not in your suitcase that’s already loaded on the bus, that’s just too bad.”

The tiring jaunt to Paris in which a very weary Mrs. Newman told a young lady to ‘kick him where it counts if he’s bothering you.’

That time in Spain when Mrs. Newman told you all to be quiet and go to bed.  Mrs. Newman’s harsh tone did not stun you into silence, but her lack of makeup, bed-head, and super thick glasses did, and you all talked about it for days on end. “You don’t want to see her in the middle of the night,” I heard you whispering to the others.

When we went to Greece and Mrs. Newman was too preoccupied with other things to have as much fun as she should have had with you all, and for that she remains deeply sorry.

The mud day that virtually destroyed the front lawn of the campus.  What fun!

The boy who thought an entire bottle of soy sauce was necessary for our classroom chili cook-off.  We didn’t win that year.

The girl who left as quickly as she arrived when rumors regarding her well-being at home began to circulate.  I still think about her, and wonder how she’s doing now that she’s a twenty - (or is it thirty?) something.

The family of nine whose father signed his name on school forms with a dollar sign.

The laughter.

The love of good literature.

The power behind the written word.

And now the knowledge that every little thing we did really mattered…at least to me.