I love all of my students, but some of them are much closer to my heart than others. Here are ten of my favorite kids (in no particular order), and just some of the reasons I love them. I have changed the names, but the kids are all very real.
1. Bart. He’s my “school son;” I love him like my own. He is kind and gentle, he is generous and thoughtful, and he is wicked smaht and funny as hell. He and I have settled into a kind of familial intimacy that makes me grateful every day that I took this job.
2. Margot. She and I are just now starting to connect. I had her in class last year. Some days I thought we clicked, other days I was sure she hated me; I could never tell where we stood. I found out the other day when she had a panic attack, left the school, and called me in near-hysterical tears asking me to come and get her. I cannot tell you how important it is to me to be a safe person to my kids; knowing that she is comfortable enough to call me when she felt most vulnerable is huge.
3. Kermit. Kermit and I clashed HARD last year; to the point where he actually transferred out of my class. I will admit to being nervous to have him this year, but something is profoundly different between us. He’s energetic and engaged, and he’s dug into the work that I ask my kids to do – to the point that he’s kinda rocking my socks. His parents told me that something clicked for him at home, too, and he’s totally making it all work. He and I are laughing and really talking, and I am delighted to be sharing this year with him.
4. Caroline. She’s a new kid this year, but something in her resonated with me from the moment we met. She is open and sweet, she has a sublime sense of humor, and she’s eager to learn and to find her place in our community. She’s got some self-esteem problems that I’m working on (she was convinced at some point that she’s a bad writer), but every time we talk, I get the feeling that she’s going to be one of my kids.
5. Jeff. Jeff is one of my guitar boys and, like Kermit, we did not connect our first year together. In fact, Jeff was one of the kids I was sure we were going to lose; he just wasn’t working. I kept at him, though, even though I know he sometimes hated me for it. Last year, something in him turned, and he started the year really rockin’… until he wasn’t. At one point, he came to me and admitted that things were bad at home. I looked him in the eye and told him that he could call on me for anything he needed. Ever since then, he’s been my kid, and I love him like I love Bart.
6. Trevor. Trevor is a new kid, but he’s already grown on me. He’s open and sweet, he’s sharp and funny, and he seems a genuinely happy to be with us. I have no idea if he’s going to be one of mine (really, the kids choose me), but I wouldn’t object if he wanted to be.
7. Nick. Nick is also a new kid, and I am deeply impressed by him. He is infectiously, deliriously friendly, he is wickedly smart and observant, and I’m pissed that he’s a senior because it means we’re only going to have him for the year. He seems to me the kind of kid who will put himself out for other people, and I already feel like he’s going to be a huge part of my school life this year.
8. Hannah! There are a million things to love about Hannah!, not the least of which being that she signs her name with an exclamation point. She’s in it; she wants to learn, she wants to read, she wants to suck everything out of this experience, and I adore her. She isn’t really mine – while we get along fantastically, I think she’s bonded much more to another teacher at the school – she is one of the kids I look forward to every day.
9. Arthur. Arthur was another kid I thought we were going to lose last year, but who’s somehow managed to come back to us this year; he’s not quite wheels-up, but he’s definitely on the runway and picking up speed. We’re really starting to connect; he’s looking me in the eye, he’s joking with me, he’s starting to trust me – and himself. I have a good feeling about this kid.
10. Betty. I adore Betty. She is a firecracker, but I think that a lot of that energy is her way of trying to cover up some pretty hefty insecurity. She admitted to me, in a piece of writing, that she’s going through some things. I wrote back to her and told her that she didn’t have to go through them alone; that I would be there for her if she needed me. We haven’t spoken about it – that’s not the way Betty operates – but I know she knows I’m here. That may be enough – just that knowing – but if she needs more, and I can give it to her, all she has to do is say the word.
I am so incredibly lucky to be able to do this work, and to work in a place that lets me love my kids the way I need to.