And so it begins a regular seventh hour when a student bellows throughout the room the status of my eyelashes. Yes, they have status. Not mine, but teen eyelashes do, and mine were not on point. Now, by seventh hour my lashes could be doing a tango for all I care, as this hour keeps me on my toes, but no, I was not to have clumpy lashes on that day in that very moment. “Sit down Mrs. L, this is going to take work, what are you doing in the morning?” “Um, well you know the usual,” I say with a glimmer of please, oh please let this moment pass. The others in class were busy with their writing coursework and this little doll was doing what she did best, ignoring work when she was stressed. I have known her for years, and I knew our beauty session was not about my lashes, it was her life that she needed a short escape from and my eyelash rearrangement gave her what she sought. We talked and laughed about my lack of skill and her obvious skill and evaded the true topic that I knew she wanted to blurt out, but today was not to be that day. My clumps would have to do. As she went to work with precision, she poked and prodded at the task at hand, shrinking from issues and creating her little masterpiece. She stared at me like so many times before and gave me a wink of thanks. “You are the best, you know it right?” She stepped back and gave me the nod (only known to us) and went back to work. It was her kind words between my treatment that I finally heard clearly for the first time.
When I began 25 years ago, I wanted to be the perfect teacher. The color-coding fool who can instruct inside and out and never missed a beat. Instead I became the non-color coding crazy instructor who has never taught a lesson twice. I never miss a beat of the hearts in my class, and will stop a lesson in a moments notice if the real world comes raging through the hearts of my borrowed kids. Oh, I always circle back to the lesson, but I create a home first and education second. This cannot be learned but I took excerpts from good teachers I had in my childhood. Teachers that cared more about me than my scores. As for my clumping issues, I stood perfect for that moment and as for the student I only hope she had more teachers who opened their hearts and minds to her world. As for my newly borrowed kids they have a teacher who will always allow them to fix her lashes and listen. I think that is pretty perfect, even if my color-coding and data files are a bit off.
The above story is true and my little sweetie is a senior this year.