Amazing Emma

I wish I had taught her, wish I could have had her in my class.  She’s such an amazing young woman.  Pure of heart, compassionate in spirit, thoughtful, loving.

God, I really do wish I could have worked with her.

I’m talking about a student who is also a member of the cast.

I worked with Emma last year and was impressed by her.  She was the first actor to have her lines memorized.  She was quick to try and motivate others to remember their lines, even whispering the lines if someone was stuck.  Several times, when the action froze and the actor stared at the lights while searching for whatever syllables will trip the lines out of their throat, it was Emma who stood up, donned her cape, and saved the day.

I don’t need Superman.  I have Emma.

This year, one of the school’s physics teachers was diagnosed with a serious form of cancer, resulting in him being out for a long period of time.  Emma made him a sock stuffed animal.  I haven’t even seen it, but I have heard about how this teacher became weepy when the gift was delivered and kept it with him his entire time in the hospital.

And then, because the teacher was out on extended leave, the students struggled.  But Amazing-Emma once more stood up, donned her cape, and saved the day.  Realizing the problems fraught within the school, she created a form students could use to find and be matched with a tutor.

Sure, we still have some confused kids, but it’s not because Emma isn’t out trying to do her utmost best in making everything a bit better.

As Emma has been applying to colleges, we have spent hours editing her essays.  Her first topic was to invent a simple machine that would improve the quality of life for someone or a group.  Emma invented an automated cookie maker that would bake homemade cookies for her mother.  Emma wrote about her mother’s love of homemade cookies, about how the smell of homemade cookies reminded Emma’s mother of her own mom, of being loved.

You see, Emma could have invented a machine that might have guaranteed world peace, saved the world, done something which was revolutionary.

And I know that Emma will do something revolutionary.  She has too much goodness within her to just live.

But, what I think can be revolutionary is doing something simple for someone else, even if the result is nothing more than a long breath that exhales out tension and invites relaxation.  Even if the result is nothing more than a tired smile and hooded eyes as a weary mother collapses into her chair and dips a warm cookie in to a glass of milk.

That can be heroic too.

Emma is one of those students that no one thinks about because she is so good at everything that it’s easy to let her blur into the spectrum of the world surrounding her.  She’s in the background of incredible projects.  She was the student director on this year’s fall musical.  She is the physics tutor coordinator.  She is her mother’s biggest support.

She’s not out in the middle of the world spear-heading every single action and event.  Or, maybe she is and I’m so dense I haven’t noticed.  I think she was responsible for homecoming.  I might be wrong.  I can’t remember.  I’m a really terrible person.

But, you see, Emma is just solid kindness.  She’s the one who keeps her eyes out on all the other cast members and she takes an emotional inventory on everyone to check on their emotional well-being.  Emma is the person who glances out of the corner of her eye and gives a wink, a secret smile, a glance that lets the person know he or she is loved.

I have started a tradition for this year’s play rehearsals.  I am worried that working on The Diary of Anne Frank will become a daily two to three hour grueling session of depression.  After the first read-through, we were in tears.  What the hell are we going to do when we are blocking out scenes and acting out the arrest or Otto narrating the deaths of his friends and family members?

Every day, we end with “good thoughts” as my co-director calls them.  I have asked that the students end each rehearsal with a statement about something good that they had experienced that day.  I know it might sound cheesy.  And, right now, it probably feels that way because we aren’t blocking out anything sad.  But by starting this now, we are going to become an ensemble who will love and care for one another.

Emma is the one who makes sure everyone has a voice.  I start the session, going from person to person, even getting the co-director (lead director really) to say something.  But Emma is the person who asks me about my good moment for the day.

And, I have to admit, it feels good to have someone ask me for my thoughts.  Yeah, I’m probably sounding a bit stupid at this point.  That’s okay.  I’ve been grading papers all night after cooking and eating dinner after working out hard for an hour after working for eight.

I’m allowed to be tired which means I’m allowed to be a bit silly-stupid.

My happy moment for yesterday was that I had learned how to do a new crochet stitch for the Star of David/Israel flag blanket.  And Emma understood.

She got it.

I love amazing Emma because…well…because she’s amazing.  I keep on hearing about how teenagers are “no damn good.”   Apparently, whoever’s saying this hasn’t met Emma.

Come on by.  I’ll try to find her when she’s not busy and introduce you.  It’ll have to be quick.  She might be wearing her cape.

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