This Post by Joe Stephens
I’m new to this group, so, unless you read my biographical information first, you may not know that, in addition to writing, I’m a teacher. Specifically, I teach senior English. As hard as it is to wrap my head around, I lose another batch of students in just over two weeks. Every year in August, I swear I won’t get attached to this new batch like I do every year, but down deep I know it’s a filthy lie. I know they’ll break my heart on that last day—and I’m okay with it.
It used to be really hard because I thought for the first few years that these kids who cried and hugged me on the last day of school would stay in touch and would all come back to visit me regularly. And to be fair, a few did, but most didn’t. There are literally hundreds of students with whom I was quite close while they were here that I’ve literally never seen since. At first, I was bitter, but time has helped me change my perspective. I have realized that, while there are those who become permanent fixtures, for the vast majority of my students, our relationship is for a season, a specific period of time. It isn’t meant to be permanent.
That it’s somewhat transient in nature might make it seem like it’s superficial, but nothing could be less true. For ten months, I become a friend, a confidant, a mentor, a cheerleader. For some, I even become a surrogate dad. They cry on my shoulder when they break up with the ONE. They proudly share their art work, their acceptance letters, and their good grades. They hang around in my room every minute they can get away with it. And I love every minute, despite the fact that, one day after their senior year ends, this will all end too. It’s a great feeling being needed and getting to make a positive difference in the lives of dozens of kids for that relatively brief period of time.
And it’s not that they no longer love me. I have kids that graduated twelve, even fifteen years ago, who run up and hug me every time they see me. But the time during which we were friends who talked regularly and were an ongoing part of each other’s lives was predetermined to be finite. It had a terminus from day one.
I know I may sound like I’m trying to convince myself of this, but it really is okay that it ends. They need to move on, make new friends, grow into adults. Meanwhile, I need to make room in my heart for a new group of kids that I’ll adopt and fall in love with for ten months starting next August.
But first, a day of hugs, tears, and goodbyes.
***Who have you the most trouble saying ‘Goodbye’ to? ***
Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey and Kisses and Lies, both of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from
Amazon, from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg, and from the author’s trunk.
Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon
Take a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon
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