I was sitting in the back of a classroom full of 10th graders, the majority of whom are taller than me. Strolling into class late with his Beats blaring, a fresh nose piercing, and jeans that could definitely win a SAG award for different reasons than Leonardo had, Nick took a seat with his other tablemates — two ridiculously shy female students who blushed even while having casual conversations amongst themselves.
Caught in a daze and doodling in my notebook, I thought back on the conversation I had with his teacher. A few days ago, Nick’s teacher informed me that he was identified as an emotionally disturbed child, and had an Individual Education Program. She said he didn’t really like to talk, nor did he care to do his work, and that this was his third high school he’s been in.
You’re a teacher, right?
Nick had turned around and caught me completely off guard. I stammered out a, “Yes,” surprising myself once again (I always forget that I’m a student-teacher because I look like a student-student and act like an infant-toddler).
Can you help me with this project thing? I don’t get it.
I nodded and moved my belongings off the desk adjacent to me as he walked over with his crumpled papers and took a seat.
We went through the prompts; there were about 15 different options and he was to choose one writing project, a research project, and a creative project. We decided to work on the writing project first. Rather than telling him how to do his work, I listened to what he had to say, offering him guidance with the rubric he was given; one of my biggest teaching ideologies is that conversation and dialogue are vital to learning and constructing knowledge. When you can break things down in conversation and explain to me what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling, you’re basically writing your own paper without knowing it.
The knowledge is there; it’s just about getting it from your mind and mouth onto that piece of paper.
We were making progress and started talking about other irrelevant subjects. As a student-teacher who looks like a classmate, I guess I overuse that privilege a little too much. We talked about his goals, girls, and his family life.
I want to get a job so I can save all my money and get out of here.
Ooh, and make sure to buy something nice for your mom too when you’re a grownup!
*look of bewilderment*
Why would I do that? My mom is crazy.
My mother interjection was incredibly random to say the least, but if you know me, you know I’m one who likes acknowledging my mom whenever I have successes in life, and I like to share that positivity towards others, whether it is solicited or not (it’s usually not).
I somehow segued into another conversation because I’m just a great conversationalist, obviously, but that moment resonated with me for a few days.
In the car ride after school, I thought to myself how odd it is to not want to make your parents happy, especially your mom.
My mom sacrificed so much for me, and I’ve seen her at her highest and lowest points; both incredibly emotional on either ends. I would never imagine lying, cheating, or stealing from my mom – ok, well white lies are fine like she doesn’t need to know that I went to Maddie’s house after senior prom and drove my friends around because they were too drunk to go home, right? Right.
My mom paid for my tuition, she made me gourmet lunches in elementary school, and she lets me borrow her car if I behave. There’s not even a second of a doubt that I would give her the world if/when I could.
But Nick? Nick couldn’t imagine giving his mother anything, so I chewed on that for a moment.
It was a really random thing of me to say; maybe he was just caught off guard or joking.
He’s also v young.
It’s not like you saw any of us bringing our moms to school and parading them for the cool people they are.
This whole “parent appreciation” thing is usually acquired a little after high school and during college, when you don’t get those home cooked meals anymore and you’re buying a Lunchables not because you want to, but because that’s all you can afford.
I gave myself closure with that situation, but a few days later, it crossed my mind again.
Was it the way I was raised?
It feels as if it’s programmed within my soul that I should give any and everything I can to my mom.
No really. I’ve established three requirements that will help me identify that I am successful in life since middle school:
1. I can tip a waiter as much as I want without estimating and doubling the tax.
2. If I see a homeless person on the side of the road, I can hand them any amount in my wallet without thinking twice.
3. I can buy my mom anything she wants.
That list sounds like a ridiculous and rather economic way to measure success, but it’s something I’ve engrained in my soul for years.
With that, Nick’s comment still irked me, but I wasn’t asking the right questions.
Rather than asking why it bothered me, I wasn’t asking myself why he might have those feelings, and why feelings that I have are absent from him.
Granted, I am ruling out the answer that he is young and hasn’t developed those feelings of appreciation just yet, because that’s just a textbook answer that anyone can slap on to make themselves go to bed at night, nahmean?
Had it ever occurred to me that he might not have the same upbringing as I? Granted, I do consider that everyone has different things going on in their lives, but I hold my mom on such a pedestal because I know what she’s been through, what she’s fighting. However, what about those who haven’t had those mothers? What about those who have mothers that chose flight over fight? Those mothers who decided that their kids were a burden, and chose abandonment over motherhood? Those mothers who are there but aren’t really there, or are not all there.
Their kids are the ones who are suffering.
As this Mother’s Day is coming and going, I see so many people praising their mothers via social media and I don’t see so many people giving their moms hugs and kisses — by that, I mean they don’t feel the need to post it on social media, and that’s perfectly fine with me!
But I don’t ever want to neglect those friends who have terrible relationships with their mothers, not by choice.
Who knows if Nick gave his Mom a card and a hug today, or if he left his mom a card on the kitchen table and is out at the mall with a girl, or if he’s scrolling through Tumblr while his mom is out with her friends. I can’t apply my own strong ideals on someone whose life I don’t know, whose values I’ve never been exposed to, whose mother I’ve never even met.
I’m not quite sure what the point of this whole post is, but my computer is at 7% and I like to start/finish a post in one sitting.
Cheers to all who have been blessed with a strong and independent mama who will love you unconditionally and knows how to show you (or you just know how she shows it).
To those who avoid social media on the second Sunday of May because everyone’s Mother’s Day posts make you roll your eyes and scoff on the exterior but hurt your heart a little on the inside for whatever reasons you may have,