Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sweetness and Respect

My day today was governed by the sweetness of one of my students, an 18 year old young man, a student I’ve worked with for nearly two years now, who appeared in my classroom at 7:15am. He wanted to talk to me. 

He was stressed. He was feeling very overwhelmed by his “To Do” list of homework, scholarship applications, financial aid applications, and the necessary decision of selecting his college by tomorrow. He knew he had work he owed me for his absence on Monday and work that is due by Friday. He acknowledged big tests coming up early next week. Surely, the weight of the world is on his shoulders this week. He did not come in for counsel, nor did he come in to make any excuses or to ask any favors. He did not come in to complain or to blame; In fact, he was quick to acknowledge how his own recklessness and procrastination had led to his present condition. He came in to see me only to explain to me why he would not be attending my class today. He didn’t want me to get the wrong idea. He wanted me to know the full story. When I realized he had come in out of respect for me, I was touched. 

I listened. Then I told him what he had missed when he had skipped my class (for the very same reasons) two days earlier, and what he was going to be missing today. I asked him about his day’s schedule. What was his plan? He told me of his end of the day study halls and of his sports practice late afternoon. He told me he’d skipped that practice too, earlier in the week, to work on his applications.

I shared with him how I understood what he was feeling. I recounted to him the business of my last few days--handling insurance claim paperwork for Emma’s stolen laptop, the last minute notice of a scholarship deadline, and how I was helping my daughter get the paperwork needed to make tomorrow’s due date for that local award. I told him I surely could relate, and that I also knew that he knows that these stressful days will come and go, not only in his final semester of high school but throughout his life. And then I said, “But then, you’ll catch your breath. This will all pass and you’ll be enjoying the warm sunshine, happy and excited to know you got through this and that everything is okay and wonderful again”. 

He nodded and thanked me. “I don’t know what I’m going to do, Mrs. Walker”, he said. I told him not to worry. That I’d either see him in class second period or I wouldn’t. And that if he was not there, I’d know why. I told him to take care.

Two hours later I welcomed in my second period class. Guess who was there in attendance, sitting at his desk? 

On this last day of April, an 18 year old young man reminded me why I do what I do. And no matter what he gets done today, tomorrow, or the next day, no matter which scholarships he receives, which school he ends up attending...that sweet young man is going to be just fine.