I had errands to run today-- a turkey for my Girlie's birthday dinner, and picking up 1970s-esque lights for my bestfriend. At Hanaford here at home, I did finally find a little turkey reasonably priced... and I ended up in line with one of my current and former Sunnie's grandmother. It's always nice to bump into family of my students, because I get some insight as to how they're doing-- not just what they tell me, but what their grandparents see. For the most part, it's good.
After the grocery store, I went to the local ho-mart. It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I am not a fan-- in fact, I think all 3 of my readers know this fact. But I remembered on my way to the grocery store that my bestfriend forgot to go pick up these lights at the 50% off sale yesterday... and once I remembered for him, no amount of business hatred would stop me. So in I went, as quickly as I could pull off. I noticed one of my 2014 graduates working a register; I had overheard another cashier thanking her for being helpful.... which
is pretty gratifying to overhear about someone who initially introduced
herself to me as a "b&^th, and someone you won't like"... really,
honey? Is that how we're playing this? Cause trust me, sweetie, I'll
form my own opinion.... and we'll see how I describe you at the end of
our run together. So I sorta snuck up on her with my purchase; her reaction to seeing me in her line was to run around and tackle me with a bear hug. Yup... exactly as I'd expected. She told me about her Christmas day with her son and long lost cousin... and as much I hate shopping there, I was thankful to have seen her.
But then I saw one of my first Sunnies in the parking lot. In many ways, he is the reason I am the teacher I am. He came to me because he was considered too "dangerous" for regular school... but he was never dangerous with me. He had a lot of anger, sure.... but when I helped him make peace with his past and embrace his future, he became the biggest softie-- which is the only kid I ever saw in him. He's the one who named me "Buckaroo"... and part of the crew that gave rise to the Sunshines. And seeing him, with a gift for his nephew, telling me about his new (better) job, and how his elementary school son was doing... well, it was better than any present I could have received.
Each of these interactions with sunnies and their families made me so thankful to have stumbled upon this job 10 years ago. Make no mistake, I am not the best teacher out there: I can't teach algebra, or how to write an effective thesis statement, or why we need to know about chemical reactions. But I can help kids figure out who they are and where they are going... and when I get to see the results, either through Grandma's eyes, or a co-worker, or the Sunnie himself.... well, it's amazingly gratifying.