Wednesday, September 15, 2004

"I know you love me."

The relationships we build as teachers are far more important to learning than the subject matter that we teach.

Each day we are given the opportunity to influence a decision, and perhaps change a life by what we say or do. Mostly these occasions silently become available, and we may not notice or take advantage of the chance to make a difference.
Other times they will arrive with a fanfare that loudly proclaims, "This is a Teachable Moment."
Today's opportunity came, like a gift, in a lovely package.

Every once in a while a student will wrap themselves around your heart, simply because they choose to love you. Last year a very beautiful Puerto Rican girl in the ninth grade, picked me to be her favorite teacher. She was having some trouble at home, and in fact, even ran away several times that year.
She shared many of her misadventures with me, and I listened. She would say, " I like that I can tell you things, and you don't scream at me or hit me. Sometimes I wish you were my mother."

Who could resist? She had me by the heartstrings.

This year she is not in any of my classes, but will stop by and visit the art studio. Today, when I saw her in the hallway after school, she gave me a hug.

"Where are you going now?" I asked.

"To my fiance's."

"What?...Who?...When?" I stammered.

"This summer...I got engaged."

"Come, take a walk with me. We need to talk."

She smiled and slid her arm around my waist as we turned to walk toward my classroom.

"Who is this boy? Do I know him?"

"His name is Carlo, he doesn't go to school."

"How old is he?"

"Twenty seven."

"Are you...?"

"No. I just want to be with him."

"When do you plan on getting married?"

"In the spring."

"What about school?"

"I will still go to school."

"What does your family think?"

"My mother likes him."

"You know I think you are too young. I will try to talk you out of this."

"I know you love me"
She smiled and leaned her head on my shoulder.

Love.
It carries so many responsibilities...and challenges. How will I convince this child to wait? To savor her youth and not rush into the world of adults?
This time, I will not only trust my instincts, but also pray for guidance.
I dare not make a mistake.

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