I’m learning to live with it. Don’t like it. Not from my kids or family but former students.
As the only special education language teacher in my building, often my students and I embark on a four year journey. Adolescence, relationships, career choices, post secondary applications to young adulthood; we hit many life milestones. For a few each year, we establish a bond. Maybe a missing parental role, a listening ear, or a friendly connection, or perhaps a little of all.
My favorite time is when they take the post secondary leap and head out to adulthood. Each summer I worry, will they make it? Have they secured housing? Found a job? Are they safe? Often I see a few around town, get an email, maybe a phone call, or some brave a trip down memory lane and stop by. Hearing about their triumphs and less than stellar moments, I feel like a parent. Beaming and embracing all the good and frowning at the bad.
For some, they feel the need to keep me up to date, others come for a confession of sorts, and for a few they think they’ll shock me. News flash, I’ve heard or have seen most bomb shells. Pregnant? Heard it. Recently out of jail? Read it. Dating a married 50 year old man, no job, and strung out on drugs? Been told. Nope, the shock value is gone. What they will get may be their shock.
A few sad eyes, a listening ear, and then the interrogation. So where do you see yourself in 5 years? Is this the life you want for your kid? How will you support yourself? Remember your dreams, plans? Still possible! You have skills, go use them. Next they will get a few phone numbers of helpful resources, my email address, handshake/high five/hug and a last ditch, “you can do this!” pep talk.
The following days I worry. Days turn to week. I’ll see something that will remind me, did he do it? Is she clean? Will he keep a job?
A few make it. They soar beyond our small town, find life successes, and continue to go as a societal contributing adult. Others follow a family blueprint, unable to shake the skeletons out, and miss out on a dream.
Sometimes it is hard to separate the former teacher from the parental role.
Side note: As I sat typing this today, a recent graduate drove in my driveway to say hi and tell me about her Fall plans. Proud moment.