i hadn’t had to remind her she didn’t work at my table anymore when it happened.
i walked past, ostensibly on some errand, and must have stopped at her math table to talk to her teacher for a minute when she turned around with mournful eyes and asked, “when do i get to work with you again?”
my heart broke, harder than it ever had on the days when i had to remind her she didn’t work at my table anymore, when she would bounce over eagerly, hope simmering underneath her smile that this time, i would forget to say anything.
she reminded me of another little girl, hopeful in the ideal, mournful in the real.
i was reminded that this job, this teaching job, is not for the weak.
and i’m reminded of kayla’s post, where she talks about the attachment you inevitably develop with kids. and how, even if you try not to, they eventually draw you in.
a little child shall lead us, no? and they lead us to acceptance and open minds and love and vulnerability. to tears and cries of joy, to courage, to honesty, to battle.
there’s another girl at kumon, a sweet girl who has severe emotional issues. and i see bravery in the way she asks me my name, in the way she tells me hers, and the way she rushed to give me a hug a few weeks ago.
i can’t steal kayla’s phenomenal post ending but i wish i could. because i remember telling another student when i was substituting that the best teachers are good students. he said he’d never heard it. and i was just astounded, because if i have ceased to learn from my students, then what on earth am i ever going to teach them?
i can teach cynicism, doubt, fear, skepticism, and a whole host of other negative characteristics.
but they teach me joy, courage, fearlessness, honesty, simplicity, and whole host of other positive characteristics.
it is a strange place, this Kingdom that makes instructors of students and learners of teachers. may i always be kept on the low side in that place. may we all be kept on the low side. only there do we remember there is always something to learn from everyone.