the end of a year has come, and I would like to say it’s bittersweet, but mostly it’s bitter.
i closed most of my schools this week, despite not being ready for the year to end. my student s have worked hard, and i have not been an easy person to work for. they have learned and grown and lived this past year.i say they lived – i mean they lived fully – but in the physical sense, not all of them did. one of my students died in the winter, and part of living for the rest of us was carrying that grief, owning it, knowing it, wearing it.
i am not sure what i have taught my students this year. i know what i set out to teach: finance, a sense of citizenship, responsibility. i know i strove to set the example for them that i wanted them to emulate, but i also know i’m only human, and i made mistakes.
perhaps this, the handling of the fits and starts of life, is what i have succeeded in teaching them. that it is okay, when your friend died, to be sad. that it is okay, when you make a mistake, to say so. and that it is okay to ask for help, that what we should be ashamed of is not asking to be helped from our lack of knowledge, but from willfully persevering in our ignorance.
if i had been their classroom teacher or their counselor or a life coach, i would have told them to do their falling now, and to do it often. for these students, there are supports in place that they will not have when they are my age.
i would have shown them the scars on my knees, the ones i earned on the asphalt behind my elementary school, where some of my students themselves attend. i would have told them i am proud, after all, of those scars, because they mean i leapt and jumped and ran. and i fell, yes, but when you have picked yourself up at 10, you know how to do it at 25, and not just physically.
i would tell them life is a dance, and they have pirouetted – sometimes literally – with beauty and grace, so much so it has been my privilege to be their teacher, but even more to be their student.
and i would tell them to fare well this summer, that i will see them in the fall, that history repeats itself and that is sometimes quite a good thing.