Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I'm going through about four years of writing and making sure links still work, editing, etc. Only, it's really slow going because I didn't realize how emotional is would still be for me.
Some of it I really miss. I miss beautiful, funny, intelligent students who are just starting to think critically like this girl. I miss funny stories with deeper meanings about how the kids think I'm black. I miss their amazing descriptive writing - how do you beat "My dog smells like junk"? Oh, and crackers sound like rocks when they break; have you ever noticed? I miss students being able to come into my classroom in fourth and fifth grade to visit. Or coming to visit from middle school or high school. I miss the incredible relationships that can happen with students' families regardless of all socioeconomic and racial differences only after they really really get that I love their kids.
Some of it is a relief. I'm not tired all the time. (Well, I am because of my cough, but it's different). I don't have my heart broken on a daily basis because of what the kids have had to go through. I'm not spending a ton of money that I don't have on school supplies.
But I'll never forget all of these things. I'll never forget the many times I've had to call child protective services and why. I'll never forget kids putting their heads down and saying "You can't help me, nobody can help me. I should just die." I'll never forget getting notes saying "Tricia couldn't do her homework because the gangs was shooting and we was hiding in the bathtub." I'll never forget kids asking me why their dad doesn't love them or why drugs make their mom forget she has a family. Or seeing the meanest, hardest, dirtiest, rudest kid in the third grade care for a rat in the way that the child should have been cared for.
And now I can't do anything to help those kids. I'm working with my two kids I work with, and I am not underestimating that. That is one tough situation and takes a lot of energy and perseverance. And I know I can't save kids - there's a part in the Bible where God says "I am the Lord and apart from me there is no Savior." I remember how exhausted I was for eight years and how very very sick I got at the end. But there are kids who need to be helped and it hurts my heart that I can't do more.
Everyone knows the sappy story about the little boy who goes walking on the beach after a big storm or something and sees thousands of starfish washed up on the beach. He starts picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean (except aren't starfish tidepool dwellers? Am I overthinking this?) when a cynical adult comes along. The cynical adult says something like, "There are thousands of starfish. You'll never make a difference." The kid says something like "But I've made a difference to this starfish."
Sweet. Heart-warming. But there are so many starfish left. And kids aren't starfish. The starfish, as far as I know, aren't suffering emotionally, even if they dry out and die. The kids suffer. The kids learn that they are unlovable, unworthy, and have no chance of success. They learn to hate themselves more than anyone else could ever hate them. And I don't think I've gotten most of them back in the water - maybe closer, but not all the way in.
That's why I write this blog. Maybe if people see how many starfish are still washed up, they'll help throw them back. Maybe people will see each of these kids as a person and think about how that teenage thug that looks scary with his hoodie and his pants down to his knees and his thug friends was a little boy, and maybe a little boy who asked me why his dad didn't love him. If enough people can see that, maybe it will make a little tiny difference.