People seem to like to put tags on my kids. They want to cram them into 140 characters like a Twitter update. #bad #scary #outofcontrol
I see it differently.
Most days I look at my kids with equal parts awe and frustration, kind of like I do with Henry when he isn't doing what I think he should. Not living up to potential I know is there but can't access. My kids are like gold bars of potential locked up tight in the kind of safe you see in Tom Cruise spy movies, and my teachers spend their days tiptoeing through the laser maze, trying to find the right combination of empathy and discipline to make that lock bust.
Most of my kids have stories that make me humbly question how they can stand upright and moving, never mind learn algebra. These stories are always lurking in the background of the place, even though they aren't what first spring to mind when I think of my kids.
I think of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 125 people, kids in aprons stirring the stuffing and making pie crust and laughing laughing laughing. I think of them standing on the corner waiting for the bus and rapping to the passing traffic, not caring who sees because they are the Young Fabulous. I think of how they make fun of my green smoothie breakfast (baby throw up) and 'rabbit food' lunch and tell me about how their grandma makes spaghetti and it is so. Good. I think about all the times I've had to lean over to a kid I trust, feeling like the oldest of all old people, and whisper " did she just give me a compliment or call me something awful" when I didn't get the memo that the word for 'cool' has changed 17 times since the last time I looked it up on Urban Dictionary. And they laugh and call me crazy, but I know they think I'm alright.
I think of watching one of my 8th graders shaking the hand of the Vice President of the United States and thinking "Hell YES, America, you got it right this time".
My teachers have stories, too. I love my kids, but some of the ways they've learned to survive make them...challenging in a school setting sometimes. Some days I'm sure my teachers feel like those inflatable clown punching bags, but damned if they don't pop back up a grand majority of the time, gathering in the office and talking about how they can do things differently next time, better next time. They cross team and tag team, collaborate and commiserate, and when all else fails there is a stash of chocolate in someone's bottom desk drawer.
I had my last day there Friday. I kind of can't believe I won't be going there Monday morning but, as I told a kid the other day, we are all moving forward all the time and I am on to something new. I know that as time passes I'll start to see my new school as home and Randolph will seem more distant but we're family. Ride or die.
My dear William Randolph School, I am better for having metcha. Deuces, bitches.