Yup. Only the second day.
And it’s not that bad.
Actually, it’s not bad at all.
I think the hardest thing for me to convince my students in the first couple of days is that I am not “crazy.” Somehow, my energy and happiness have been translated into “crazy” which really bothers me. Through friendships and acquaintances, I have heard stories about people branded as “crazy” and it bothers me to be lumped in with individuals who have lost their hold of reality. I feel great sorrow for those people and for their families as they must be watching loved ones fall farther and farther from the horizon that was once a beautiful base line and is now just a dusty shadow on a tilted landscape.
I have a weird sense of humor that is coupled with word/image association. People will say or do something which remind me of something else, a movie, a book, a funny line somewhere. And my ADD brain will take off and I’ll make reference to it and then the puzzled looks scroll across people’s faces and, once more, it’s that sense of awkward They didn’t get it.
But it’s the second day and not everyone is going to get my brand of humor.
But what I have seen in the last two school days has been lovely.
My son has described his first two days of high school as “interesting.” I would normally not know what to make of this; however, he didn’t go to bed last night begging me to pull him out of school and start homeschooling him. This happened the night before the first day of either seventh or eighth grade. I can’t remember which. I remember not sleeping that night. I remember the horrible grief I felt when I realize just how miserable the Boy was because he was being picked on in school. What was really frustrating was learning about teachers who were sometimes just as hurtful as the students.
The Boy has already fallen back into the pattern of school and I have finally made the adjustment to the fact that my son is a student in a school I have inhabited for nearly the entire length of his life. But it’s no longer my school as I have described it. It is his now. He walks the halls and enters the classrooms with a new sense of ownership and confidence that I have been yearning to see for the last couple of years. This morning, he helped our principal carry several works of art into the building and I was reassured and encouraged to watch my son, this beautiful young man, jog up to our principal and ask her if she needed help. He wasn’t anxious about talking to the highest authority figure in the building.
He was confident in his ability to talk to her because our (yes…our) principal is a woman characterized by compassion for all students. I have worked for principals who targeted only the smartest or the most attractive students, the best athletes. I have watched my principal walk the halls with the most troublesome students, counseling them on making better decisions and/or checking in with the students, making sure they were in school or even just doing better than “okay.” At graduation, our principal will greet and speak to every student, saying something positive, personal, encouraging.
I keep on thinking about the Boy today. Yesterday, he seemed so uncertain, his shoulders and back a bit hunched as he walked with me into the building. I quietly told him good-bye, told him I loved him. I had already prayed with him and for him that morning and seeing him walk down the hall to his homeroom was almost heart-breaking. He just wasn’t happy.
This morning, a totally different young man walked into the building and I was comforted by the sight of his dignity and integrity coursing back through him once more.
Last week, in a faculty meeting, our principal talked about “ping” moments, those instances which causes a person to “ping” or know that something has gone well. Given the potential chaos of the first day, the “ping” moments are pretty much relegated to “we’ll get ’em here, we’ll feed ’em, and then we’ll send ’em home.” At first, I have to confess, I was a bit disappointed that those were the “ping” moments. Surely, something else should be what makes us happy, lets us know that we succeeded and did something well. But, true to my principal, she started talking about other moments.
Those quiet times when a kid comes for a hug.
The notes in which a student, a parent, a community member expresses gratitude.
The silence in the early morning when the world is right in all of its corners and the sun is rising. The mist is slowly rising out of the fields and the Canadian geese have just lifted from the fields and are about to fly over the building (I watched this happen last week and, I swear, my heart was in my throat as they flew just over my window and out of my view. It was lovely).
The sound of laughter on a Wednesday afternoon. We are so wedged into the middle of the week that there’s no light anywhere but in the musicality of a person’s joy.
The brilliance in a student’s eyes when suddenly knowledge is acquired and the confidence is built.
When a person wipes away the tears and that terrible fear moment has passed.
It’s only the second day. It’s only the second day. I have no idea how many more days until graduation need to fall through the hourglass.
I have no idea how many more days until Thanksgiving Break.
I know that in 48 hours, I will be lying in my bed, watching television with the Girl.
I know that in nine hours, I will be awakening and preparing for the next day.
I know that I am happy.
Isn’t that enough?