Friday, May 8, 2009

Why Do They Come Back

Why do they come back? We see our former students roaming the halls of their elementary and middle schools, with the same faces but bigger bodies. They poke their heads in classrooms, and they seem to be looking for something. What are they looking for?

Maybe they are looking to once again see the world the way their smaller selves used to. Back before they knew all the terrible and wonderful things they know now. Maybe things aren't so easy now, and they long for the days when recess felt like it was long enough, and that a field trip to Science World was just around the corner.

Maybe they are looking for one of us, a trusted teacher whom they counted on. Counted on to show them right from wrong, even if that meant occassionally being punished - becauase that's how they learned. Looking for the one who held them up as champions on Sports Day for finishing the obstacle course, or for noticing their new haircut and saying it didn't look so bad. Looking for the person who opened up their world of wonder with stories read out loud. Sometimes they are looking for the one person who day after day was consistent as the tides, but held them like an anchor when everything else in their young lives was unravelling.

But something happens in the conversation. We exchange a few memories, trade a few laughs and smiles and then we realize it. They think we the teachers have changed. And we have. But they have changed, too. It starts when the students notice how small everything is; the chairs, the desk, how low the waterfountains are. Even the door frames feel so low they imagine they have to duck to get through. But then they realize that they have changed. That teacher that they held in their hearts and minds is not their teacher anymore. That teacher belong to someone else; or rather a bunch of someone else's. And they can't go back home again.

I always smile when a familiar face walks through the door, and comfort them when they come to this realization. And I let them know, maybe you feel like you can't come back home because this isn't your home anymore. But I still am happy when you visit. And I will always be glad to see you.

And then just like that, off they go. To find their own way, and their own home.

1 comment:

thriveonlive said...

I really enjoyed your piece. I also enjoyed talking about it on the couch, reminiscing about the students we've had come back over the years.

Love you!