Today is tricky.
I am torn between an absolute high and a magnificent low.
This morning, the Spirit Club arranged our first ever flash mob in the commons. Our school spirit is shameful, and a group of fantastic teachers and I have decided that has to change. Our JV cheerleaders dispersed themselves among the mingling students this morning and busted out the loudest, turnt-est cheer that led into a huge huddle and lots of dancing and just good vibes.
It felt like such a success. One small step to something much bigger that can be accomplished if a group of people only tries.
Third period came and my co-worker informed me one of my students was in the hospital. Of course, any teacher’s instant reaction would (or should) be concern, worry, and asking lots of questions. But B didn’t have to tell me why this student was there, because I already knew.
I knew because Tuesday he pulled me out of class and told me he was tired. That he was done and didn’t know what purpose he served any longer. “No one needs me anymore,” was what he told me. “Sometimes I feel like if I didn’t come back, no one would miss me.” The sad thing is, though, that I know it’s more than just a ridiculous hard time with the select group of assholes at our school that’s causing him this momentous grief. Rumors of his home life have been circling for ages and they have solidified like lead in my heart.
Tears rolled down my face, hot and unwanted, as I stared into the face of one of the kindest souls you could ever hope to encounter in your lifetime. “I would miss you.” I was at a loss and in total shock. “I need you,” I continued fraily.
“You don’t need me, Ms. Mockett.”
I’m not sure how many teachers have had that moment where they know it would destroy them if they lost a student… If they have felt, for an eighth of a second, that mounting and ravenous fear curling warm and unkind in their bellies, but this was that moment for me. If he didn’t come back tomorrow, I knew it would destroy me. I sobbed and grabbed him by the shoulders. “I do need you. Don’t you know that? You are the reason I wake up in the morning. The reason I did all the things I have done to be able to teach you. The reason I smile and the reason I got through the worst break up of my life. I love you, you idiot. Don’t you know that? How can you not know that? High school sucks and people are cruel and unjust, but your life hasn’t even begun. You don’t even know how many people are going to need your love, your kindness, your selflessness, your sweet spirit. How much I need it…”
It wasn’t enough. To know I have a student that feels so small, so insignificant, so unloved, makes me furious. How can you not love them? How can you be so selfish?
I wish he could see how many students shed tears over him today. How many teachers talked with me about what we can do to help. I wish he knew that I love the way he laughs, the he wears all black nearly every day and that I have been dying to sew that hole up in his hoodie for ages. I wish he knew that his comics are hilarious, I love his raps and that he has such sweet eyes. I wish he knew that if I had a son just like him, I would be the proudest mother in the world. I would feel like I had done something so damn right. I would feel unworthy.
The world is in fucked up flux of hatred and kindness, and I feel all the time that hatred is starting to win.
I’m over it. I am so over it. Get with the program. Is it always easy to love someone? No. Is it easy to put others before yourself? Not always. Is it easy to pay close attention and look for more than what lies on the surface of the hundreds of students you teach a day? Bless those that try.
Is it easy to be kind?
Mull that over the next time something sour, hard, and unjust hits the back of your teeth and wants to spill from your mouth. You have the power to save a life by being a decent human being. And if that is asking too much, well. We’re a hell of a lot worse off than I thought.
I wish I could transform my attic space into a room like they have in the Madeline books, where all the girls have their beds in a row. I wish I could take in every child that responds to my love because they have no other source of it coming in. I wish I could make them smoothies in the morning and wash their clothes and hold them when they cry and take their phones and lecture them when they act out. Sometimes I think I could foster my kids and never marry and it would still be more than enough love. My cup would still overflow. I wish people who can’t love would just stay the hell out of life and pass the ones they don’t want to me. Because I will love them all. I will give all my love away because I know I will always be able to make more. I would Miss Honey the hell out of them.
Miss Mockett’s Wonderful Home of Misfits.
My heart hurts. I’m angry and I’m confused. I have never felt this way about anything in my life. And I’m not entirely sure I’ve even wrapped my head around it to its full extent. Not yet, anyway.
Know that my love is endless. That anyone reading this can find it from me. That I will give you whatever I can make your life better. Don’t take yourself from those who have yet to meet you. You would be doing the world a huge and terrible disservice.
Please. For all that is good and right in this world, be kind. And tell people you love them. Do it every day. Never let them doubt, never allow them to feel alone, never give them the opportunity to fear what life holds in store for them.
You have that power. Use it.