Tuesday, January 24, 2012

End of the Day: Just the Beginning

It is the end of the day and I am sitting at my desk feeling tired, with a slight headache pulsating in the back of my head. Truthfully, I just cannot wait to go home. My day has ticked by without a whole lot of excitement, and I am feeling a little "blah." However, looking over the day I am glad to report there were no fist fights in the middle of class, swearing was minimal, and the students were pretty focused. Yet, I am looking at the clock wondering why it seems frozen, when all I want to do is drag myself to the car, somehow get home, and fall asleep. Thirteen minutes to go before I can leave per contractual duties, so I might as well read the daily journal prompts and improve my sour attitude. Sigh.

 Wow, these kiddos really worked hard on their prompt today with the exception of a few. The prompt was; "Would you be proud if your future children turned out like you? Why or Why Not?" I am intrigued by many of the very blunt, and sometimes depressing statements. However, I am also enjoying the fact that quite a few recognize the behaviors they exhibit in my classroom are exactly those they do not wish their own children to emulate. Of course, there are the few "woe is me" statements like; "my life is awful because my mom took my phone or I have to do chores." But for the most part I feel myself connecting to the students as I write small comments and feedback on their pages. The feedback that seems to spark some small fire to get them writing in their journal each day in the first place. Feedback that is personal, does not consume too much of my day, but allows them to see that I am reading their thoughts. The small gesture that lets them know that I care about each one of them and listen to what they have to say.

 Then I get to the journal that makes me stop in my tracks. The one that appeals to the heart of a mother. The one that is not worse than any other situation, but will not allow my brain to move on until I write about the realization and pain it has awakened in me. Here I am feeling as Gwendolyn Brooks points out in her poem, "Kitchenette Building," "Grayed in and Gray," but should be more aware of the things going in the hearts and minds of the young adolescents surrounding me on a weekly basis. The kids who may be harboring torment from mistakes made by their parents. Not only as a teacher, but also as a mom I am moved to tears as I think about the young lady whose inner child writes:  

  " Dear Self- How can you be proud of your kids if you are not proud of yourself? How can you be proud of yourself if your mother has no pride? Growing up with drugs and alcohol, and not really knowing what the word addicted means can change a person. Growing up thinking you were destined to become just like your mom can be a nightmare that you do not want to pass on to your own kids. I do not want to be the mom who leaves her kids alone with people they are scared of, and do not really know. Or the mother who is carried away in a cop car time and time again. Or the mom who knows her kids are in a foster home, but is not willing to change her habits so the kids can come home. The mom who goes into treatment for the sixth time, and still comes out dying for a drink. The mother whose children tell themselves, 'I hate her and never want to see her again,' but must admit that is not true. For, deep inside they always crave her presence and cannot wait to see her angel face again. A mom whose child just realized she is not a kid anymore, and the day for 'things getting better' has passed."

Wake up moms everywhere, and dads alike. What images are we leaving our kids with? The ones we believe in our brains to be the truth, but are actually fictional ideas we like to create to mask our mistakes? I know one thing I have learned today is that sometimes we should examine ourself through the eyes of a child. Then we must ask the question; "Would my children be proud of me?" Next, is the tough part...action. How do I leave a positive impression upon the children around me? I cannot answer that question, but I do know that when I leave the building tonight,  I will be going home with a new appreciation for my profession, and my role in the lives of these students I hold so close to my heart. Plus, I will be going home and telling my children how proud I am of them, and how amazing they are. And I will praise God for blessing me with these words so that I do not forget what is truly important...our children.