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The Only Thing Worse Than Teaching

July 19, 2012

Today I pulled 600 dandelions, sewed a western vest for a neighbor’s baby, and then ate half a watermelon while standing at the counter in my kitchen. My summer vacation is insane!

My favorite student called me yesterday. He just wanted to chat. Mostly I think he called to see if I could help him with the custody hearing he’s getting ready to go through with his grandmother. His grandmother is about to get full custody of he and 2 of his siblings. Mom’s in jail for attempted second degree murder. She got 10 years in April.

He doesn’t want to live with his grandmother, but his options are pretty limited. He’s 15. Dad’s on death row in the Midwest. He could live with his great-grandmother who is in her 70s (dad’s grandmother), but that’s a long shot.

Of the 3 kids his grandmother raised, 2 are in jail and one is MIA. Of the 3 grand kids she has already raised, 2 are in jail, and one is dead. Now she’ll have custody of these 3.

I asked if I could bring my student with me when I moved. No go, for many logical reasons. (This reminds me of another kid who asked if I could adopt him, telling me that I just had to go to FINS and give them my social and get fingerprinted and they’d let me have him. He lives in a boys home now. And I would if I could.)

When my student called me we tried to small talk. What are you doing on summer vacation? Nothin. Are you going outside much? Sometimes. (I check the news for murders in his neighborhood daily.) Listening to music? Yeah. Reading? Not really. Are you having a good summer? It’s ok. Ready for school to start? Yeah.

I flash back to the last day of school and remember all the kids bolting out the door including him. We just finished LEAP testing and they couldn’t wait to get out of there. Summer vacation just HAD to start. He didn’t even hug me so-long. Just like that. Disappeared. And now I’m across the country living an easy, simple life. I feel lucky, too fortunate, too comfortable, too loved. When I get these little flashbacks, I’m alive again. My life feels important. I couldn’t imaging saying this before, but the only thing worse than teaching is not teaching.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2012 2:51 pm

    This is a very touching story. When your students reach out to you for support, it says a lot about how you reached them beyond the classroom!!

  2. Didier Morvan permalink
    July 19, 2012 3:47 pm

    You sometimes run the gamut from happy to sad, but I never tire or get bored from your observations. Glad your students reach out to you no matter the reasons and wherever you are, you obviously touch and teach them.

  3. July 19, 2012 5:44 pm

    Ain’t it the truth – “the only thing worse than teaching is not teaching.” Agreed.

  4. Aunt Cathy permalink
    July 19, 2012 6:43 pm

    Your heart is with your kids!!!!!! You are a true teacher!!!!!!!! Love you, Cathy

  5. kmrobb1 permalink
    July 20, 2012 11:24 am

    oooh, that makes me feel guilty for not wanting to go back to teaching. i’d reconsider if you could be my mentor!

  6. July 21, 2012 2:30 pm

    i feel bad for him, it’s a shame all parents can’t just be parents to their kids, i hope something works out for him, thanks for showing genuine concern for your students

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