On Parents, Students, and Dishwashers


On Monday, I spent my first night in my first apartment, nearly 8 months after agreeing on the sale price. For each prior year of my life, I lived with my parents. Now, I live alone.

In my transition from fledgling to flying, I currently can flap my wings with strength but can’t fly the farthest distances. Indeed, I am still quite a bit at the mercy of Mother Goose and Father Gander, who continue to help me in too many ways to list or even know. Hey, they’re even giving me until Wednesday to clear the rest of my (stuff) out.

I moved just a few days after school ended. In September I’ll welcome a mix of my former students and some newbies. But what about those who go to others? Or my first two years of fifth graders, who in September, I hope, start 7th and 8th grade?

I try to send all my students out the door on the last day feeling confident that I’ve imparted to them educational and social values that will provide them a resource on which to draw as they go through school. My parents tried to pass on life skills to me. And, although I know I’ll probably never compute a percent discount on a shopping trip as deftly as my mother or load the dishwasher with quite the same dexterity and vision as my dad, at least I know they are available to help with those independent life skills and all the less important ones. I imagine they are comforted knowing they can continue to assist me along the way.

I have no such assurance with my students. As teachers, we put so much into our kids, seeing them mature, helping them when they fail, beaming happily when they succeed. But, at least for me, when they leave my nest for the last time, I don’t know for sure who might fly and who might flop. Sadly, we are powerless once we send them off.

Will they go to class? Will they read? Will they run with the troublemakers? They are out of our hands and all we can do is hope for the best.

I’m off to load the dishes. Now which direction do the plates go?

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