Friday, March 21, 2008

A Change of Heart

The school year of 2006-2007 was a rough one for me. A combination of too many students (between 35 and 38 depending on the time of year), a few really tough kids mixed in with too many students, an age group not ideal for my personality, and (most of all) insane pregnancy hormones made for lots of time spent in the hallway trying not to explode all over my class. I had promised them I wouldn't yell at them and that when I was about to yell I would go into the hallway and wait for them to regain control of themselves while I regained control of myself. I broke that promise at least twice and spent many afternoons in the hallway keeping it. They asked me during one of our "ask Mrs. Wong" sessions, a reward for good behavior a lot like truth or dare without the dare, toward the end of the year if I would miss them. I told them that yes I would miss them . . . eventually. I explained that just like they wouldn't miss me until partway through the summer, because they were having too much fun, it would take me a while to miss them.

Well it took me longer than until partway through the summer. In fact until just recently when I looked at pictures of them, even of the angel students, it would bring a knot to my stomach. Mostly because I felt horrible for the childish feelings I had and things I did that year.
Also because of the childish feelings I was still harboring about a few of my more challenging students. If you are reading this, and you are one of my students, I'm absolutely positive that you were a student I adored, due to the simple fact that the challenging students didn't really like me . . . at all, and thus I'm sure have not taken the time to check up on me.

Well last week I was stuck in a chair, as often happens when you are the mother of a nursing baby, and I turned to the history channel. On the history channel was a documentary of a man. This documentary reminded me of one of the students who challenged me. This student didn't like me much, and was not secretive of those feelings. That or the secrecy was a complete and utter failure. My wounded pride colored my views of the things this student did, which only made things between us worse and worse. Said student did the "dead dude" report on the man featured in the documentary.

As I thought about this, I was surprised to realize that there was no knot in my stomach. I was even more surprised that the memories in my mind were fond ones. I realized something that I hadn't noticed at the time the student did the report. This student had a real thirst for knowledge about the man in the documentary, a quality I highly admire. I found myself glued to the documentary, in an attempt to be more like the student I had had such trouble just getting along with before. It sure felt good to realize that I had finally gotten over my selfish and childish feelings toward someone I should have loved. I wish I still had this student's mother's email address so I could find out how life's going in Junior High.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, Ladies and Gentlemen, I miss you. I hope you understand that it's my fault not yours that it took so long. I hope you can forgive me for being ornery on occasion, and I hope life in 7th grade is just fabulous. Remember what I used to say: if you know who you are and you like yourself, it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks. It looks like I still had some of that lesson to learn. I probably still do.

P.S. I realize that it's laborious to read "student" so many times, but I didn't want to reveal the gender of the student, nor did I want to use "it" or "he/she." I hope you can wade through it.

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