I’ve been a teacher for ten years—well, 9 ¾ anyhow.
Some would say that it’s been ten long years.
Only, it hasn’t been…not really. It has only been long in the sense that the span of years has affected all of the children that I’ve taught over the past nearly-decade. It’s changed them. They are no longer children, but instead young men and women.
I don’t suppose that one simply gets up one morning and thinks, “I’ve been a teacher for ten years counting this one.” It’s simply not done in my world. Therefore, something must be the catalyst to get one riding on this train of untraveled thought.
My personal catalyst came in the form of a phone call at school yesterday; a call from a boy who’d been in my class the very first year I’d taught.
I listened to the young man on the other end of the line; the deep, bass voice from the phone carried with it only the barest hint of the tousle-haired boy I’d remembered. This boy who’d been a member of my class back at a time when Blink 182 was at the height of their popularity, and ‘cool’ was defined by whether or not you drew a picture for your teacher, and he hung it up on the wall behind his desk.
In other words—a lifetime ago.
This particular boy had graduated high school this past year. I’d thought about him several times over the flurry of lightning days. I’d often wondered just how he was doing, and what might be going on in his life.
Now here I was, hearing it all.
As he spoke, the groggy memory of visiting my old first-grade teacher, Mrs. Woodbury, the year I graduated high school flashed through my mind. I remembered walking into the old school, and how it was like being transported back in time. The school still looked—and even smelled—the same as I’d remembered. Walking down those familiar hallways were both weird and wonderful, I was seeing them all again through eyes which had aged eleven or twelve years.
My teacher was not the same as I remembered; she was older. I was hesitant upon entering her classroom, but this quickly faded away when I saw the kids still lining up on their knees in front of her, awaiting their turn for help. She was Mrs. Woodbury.
I spoke to her, and discovered that she remembered me, even though I’d only been in her class for half a year before we’d moved. While the class worked on their individual projects, she chatted with me for a few minutes. We reminisced (or rather, she shared and I listened) of moments of times past. I was amazed that she even remembered who I was, and when I left that day I felt important. Memorable even. Then again, how can you really forget that kid who was convinced that the ‘tunnel of love’ on the playground was a binding contract, and that animal crackers would come to life in your stomach if you didn’t chew them up properly when you ate them?
I shifted back to the present as I spoke to this boy from my own teaching past. He’d called to tell me of the events in his life, his accomplishments, and how he was doing.
I told him what I remembered from the days back when he was two feet shorter than I was, and the memories I had of back when he was my student…things like the time he’d written a song about germs with his two friends - and had even added an interpretive dance to make it better.
After fifteen minutes, the conversation drew to a close; I found myself sitting in my classroom, thinking over the chat I’d just had with this young man.
The years did not seem so distant, the memories not nearly so faded, the situations not so different.
Ten years. Two lifetimes. An epoch of moments.