I have this intrinsic viewpoint of myself. I believe it to be more humble than critical, an innocent naiveté. I speak and communicate with strangers yet it still blows my mind when others want to be a part of my world. All right, I rip myself apart. You do too. I am friendly enough, very independent and make my own way but not at the expense of others.
I have been teaching for the last three months. I have prepared myself so that I will not fall in love with these teenagers. My expectation when transitioning to teaching was and is to gain their respect not to be their friend nor to gain love. My big picture is to finish graduate school, pass the exam and achieve licensure as a counselor. I am a year and half away from the complete process.
I enter the teaching field based on a suggestion, good advice, a solid “to do” until graduate school is completed. My wall is up, my heart guarded and my emotions are in check. I want you to know these children, these teens that are deemed “at-risk”, who are less than respectful, that are mean, they are hurtful and hurting….they come find me now. They seek me out. The ones I have had removed from the classroom. The same ones who call me names, the ones who walk out of the classroom, and the ones who have fought one another in front of me…..they purposely come find me in this huge school. It is a new semester and I have a free fourth block every other day. It is my planning period. I expect them to ask me for something or to do something and I hear, “We don’t want anything. We miss you. You mind if we sit in here with you?” I breathe, we sit, and they talk. My heart melts….I have no clue why they want to be here with me. The children that are expelled….referred over to alternative school they search for little ole me. They come in between classes to speak, to give a hug, to smile and just to let me know they made it to school. It truly amazes me.
I have teen females telling me their troubles. How being girls in their household leads to violent acts, how they are touched inappropriately and how, “Mom has had three different boyfriends. She is pregnant now.” They tell me how being gay and sexually active at 14 years old is, “what I know. I know how men are. I see what my mom goes through. How she takes his side. How she did not come out her room when he was beating me. She threw me out. I mean I’m back now and he is gone.” Her head down and my response: “Our children should come first.” Her: “We should.” I just hug her because I do not know what else to do. I want to bring her home with me. Not just her, all of them. Oh how my heart aches for they go right back into the same environment.
As a counselor, as a mother I know how to do this. As a teacher, I am amazed, blindsided, lost, and heartbroken. I have so many questions. This hurt, their hurt is on a grand scale and it is a lot of them. Her story is not new to me and her story has happened to so many of them in this school. I completed an essay and had an open discussion with my professor. I ask, “Why do they share with me? I do not know them. They are students not necessarily mine. I just got there.” Her response: “You are trusting. That is what they see. You’ll figure out what to do.”
While I am trying to figure out the best way to aid, help, assist who I am does not stop becoming, does not stop progressing. My soul stretches. The gray hair multiplies before my next salon appointment. I tend to wear my glasses more than my contacts. (I think they hide my crying, red eyes better.) I do not see any increased worry lines. I still manage to smile. I have to. I love on my children even the more. I am ever so grateful for my parents, my family and my extended family.
Wednesday of this week, I am waiting in the line at the grocery store talking with my Brutus, my youngest son. An older woman walks up to me: “I love your hair. I absolutely love it. You know we spend so much money on our hair. I know you not spending $300.00 on this and it is beautiful. Do not change. God has blessed us as a people with so much and we try our best to make it into something else. I have dreads and people do not even do that naturally anymore. We so quick to hop away from us. This is what I love to see. I am not going to stop at your hair. I looked at your skirt, beautiful. Your shoes, beautiful. You are doing it and doing it divinely. I had to come and speak to you. I watched you talk to your son. You, your you is just beautiful. Keep it up. Don’t change!” I thank her tremendously. Yet, I still wonder why she and others open up to me. I tell my daughter the conversation and I ask her, “Women will compliment me quicker than men. This woman compliments me and I turn heads but not one man spoke to me. Why is that?” My Autumn, (she is 12) hunches her shoulders: “She is right. You are attractive Momma. Maybe men see more and are intimidated.” My resolve, she is watching me too.
We reflect what we want to portray yet it is what others see that is /will be our greatest impact. Continue to believe more of who you are rather than in what you are trying to do. God has this God-way of making it all work for our good. Your efforts will impact, direct lives to overcome, have others stand strong, motivate change and encourage others not to quit.Be beautiful in every way. Let them see you, your beautiful you.
Light the way,