“I thought you knew
you were beautiful and fair
your bright eyes and hair
but now I see that no one knows that
about himself but must be told
and retold until it takes hold
because I think anything can be killed
after a while, especially beauty”
At the end of week three of school and this is where I am, anxious and exhausted. Not knowing if I can do it. Not knowing if I am going to reach some of my toughest kids. I always forget what it is like. I forget how hard it is, how emotionally and mentally taxing it is to reach out to the kids who aggressively push you away. I take it personally. It hurts when they mock me, ignore me, interrupt me constantly and groan when I am speaking.
I have a handful of those kids this year.
I see these kids in the hallway from previous years, the ones who seemed defiant and angry, and they go out of their way to smile and wave. Sometimes they even go in for the hug. I remind myself how hard it was to get to that place. How hard we had to work to know and trust each other. But we did get there.
I expect ALL my kids to do hard things. I know what I am asking them to do is hard and it is harder for some then others. I expect them to take risks. I expect them to think. I push them to give their best. Doing hard things can be scary and they don’t know yet that they can trust me. So they push me away.
These new kids they don’t believe me when I tell them they are smart and kind. They don’t know that they can do hard things. So I have to tell them and tell them again. I have to show them and show them again. They deserve to know that they can do hard things. They need to know that now so they can carry it with them for the rest of their lives.
And when they push me away I can’t take it personally. I have to let them know that no matter how hard they push I will not give up on them. I have to remind myself that it will take time. I have to do the hard work of being patient and kind in the face of a child who does not yet know the beauty they have inside of them.