Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Last night I had open house at my school. The "Men’s Chorus" performed. I didn’t know that was going to be happening and I was surprised to see several of my boys go up to sing.

They were kind of bad-asses, too. I am used to seeing them in class, rolling their eyes at me and looking bored or exhausted. They often tell me they are incapable of homework because football practice is too trying. They smell. They ball up their papers and set them precariously on the edges of their desks. When they leave, those paper balls are inevitably rolling around on my floor. They whisper crude jokes to each other and say "fag" just so quietly that I can’t bust them for it.

But last night, they shuffled into the auditorium in button-down shirts that were a little bit too tight for them and ties that were too short. They stood awkwardly on the risers, arms way too long for their bodies, poking each other and making faces—doing anything at all to pretend that they didn’t care they were up there. Then they sang "Lean on Me" in monotone, staring intensely at the choral director, cheeks blazing red and moist hands clapping weakly off-rhythm.

I thought my heart might just break watching them. I guess I am pretty well suited for the middle-school crowd. When I tell people what I do for a living, I always get condolences.

"Oh, bless your heart!" People exclaim. "I could never do that! What a terrible age!"

In a way they are right. Those adolescent years can be a killer. My kids are horribly awkward in their bodies and their social lives. They are surly and unpredictable. They smell. But they are also hilarious. They still have a little baby in them. And I so remember what it was to be that age that my heart just goes out to them.

Watching my kids last night made me fear having my own. The swell of emotion I get watching these students-- who I have only known six weeks—perform, makes me fear that if I ever saw my own child perform I may not survive it.

In less heart-swelling news, there are about four hundred bats swarming over my school right now. Yep, you read right. Four hundred bats. They live in the school chimney, they tell me. I asked, "Is that a problem?" The reply from the janitor was, "Well, I never thought about it. They’ve been here longer than me."
¶ 4:52 AM

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