…you’re a single, 25 year-old girl and the person who you have a constant conversation with and who wishes you good morning and good night is a 14 year-old boy. No, I’m not a pedophile, there’s explanations and reasons leading up to this situation! Don’t freak out and call the cops! I’m posting this collection of things that have been on my mind lately mostly because it’s a chance to organize and lay them all out. If my first sentence hadn’t thoroughly disgusted you, read on to hear me out!
Since finishing up my teaching practicum two weeks ago and flying directly to China the next day, one of my former students (who was closest with me during my practicum) has been in constant contact with me through email. For the most part I figure it’s because he misses hanging out with me in the classroom and because things aren’t going too well with his close friends, but the fact that it’s been constant over the past two weeks is both somewhat surprising and amazing… It’s surprising because I really figured that he would get tired of it by now. For obvious reasons, I won’t give him any of my social media accounts, so his only way of communicating with me is through email. It’s amazing because, also related to me being in the position of power, I don’t initiate conversations with him, nor respond to his ‘good night’s. My days end with him saying ‘I guess you’re going to sleep soon, and I have to go to school, so good night!’ and begin with his ‘Good morning!’ Which is like… two replies from the same person back-to-back. Most people find it annoying/intimidating to have to be the one to reply back-to-back, right? It’s not just me, right?
I also find our conversations to be strangely ironic sometimes, because he’s one of the kids that the teachers that I work with have seen to be quite the bully and quite heartless at times. I’ve heard about how he’s cyberbullied others in the class, and his current struggles with his friends are apparently ‘because he’s mean and too negative all the time’. Yet I’ll look at when he says things like “don’t sleep too late, k?” Or “how was your day?” And wonder how they could possibly be thinking of the same person. Even though I know and I’ve seen the heartless side, it’s the abundance of empathy that I’ve seen that makes me really want to help him through tough times.
For better or for worse, in many ways, he reminds me of Mr. X (I don’t remember if that was actually the pseudonym for him, but it probably was along those lines). He’s a smart kid, comes from a good home/family, amazing talents, is well-liked, but also had a certain “darkness” to him. It doesn’t help that he also reminds me of my younger brother, and his relationship with his older sister resembles mine with my brother. Because of all these things, I really want to see him do well in life, and to avoid the darkness. Ironically, the biggest struggle I’m having is figuring out whether, as his teacher, it’s ACCEPTABLE for me to invest that extra time and effort in him. He’s a sweet kid, and he seems to see me as someone worth listening to, but am I allowed to keep responding to him, or is it crossing a line?
It’s so ironic that this whole thing boils down to my understanding/interpretation of teaching such that: teachers are supposed to care for their students, but aren’t allowed to care THAT much for them. Maybe that’s the sad fact of the matter, or maybe I’m just overthinking/over-worrying. Who knows.
Done reflecting for now,