I do, however, feel like I took the strength and energy it takes to get through a day for granted. My parents raised a work horse; I feel good when I am working, contributing, doing. My mama says my first word was, "Go" and that I had definite opinions about when and where to go and what I would wear.
It's been a long week - three of the four days have included night activities. So on the fourth day of this week, I am closer to fifty hours of work than I am forty. I don't count on a regular basis. We work until the job is done. I get to serve kids and teachers tomorrow, too and then support our kids at a wrestling dual. I only mark the time tonight because it's a benchmark of sorts. There was a day I couldn't work like this; I had to conserve my strength just to get to the next day.
Within this time, this profession which requires so much of everyone in it has given back. A young man who needed redirection earlier this year stopped me in the hall. On many days, his face holds a scowl for me since I am the authority figure and he has definite opinions about where and when he wants to go. However, on Tuesday he smiled large. He said, "Hey this is like off topic but you know my sister!" He said her name in the next sentence, and we were immediately old friends. As I squeezed his arms, I beamed, "R is my girl! I love your sister!"
He said, "I know. She said you would say that. I am sorry I gave you a hard time. R said I needed to be good for you."
His sister was a student of mine ten years ago while I served as an assistant principal to ninth and tenth graders. She works at a local restaurant, and I would see her frequently - constantly reminding her what she was capable of doing.
She's married now, has a child and at our last conversation, she was pursuing her goal of early childhood education. She had to work harder than most; she didn't always choose the easy path. But what a gift she gave me. Her little brother was just a toddler ten years ago and when his face beamed with the pride of being R's little sister, I saw the sweet boy that would come with R's mom to parent conferences.
Moreover, R gave me that evidence, that feedback, that she knew she was loved and she convinced her little brother that he would be loved, too. His hard core exterior disintegrated as he said goodbye to me. I told him I didn't quit on kids, that he would see me around more, and he said, "I know; she told me."
That's the legacy we want on our team - that the kids from one decade to the next tell their near peers that they will be loved. Needless to say, when we get to see it, get to hear it played back for us, it's a very good thing.