Six years ago I took a job teaching at an all-boys high school. When I accepted the position, I was terrified of working with high school boys. My previous experience was with elementary students. Also I have always been a woman with primarily female friends, so boys, particularly of the adolescent variety, were intimidating.
Today I refer to my students as "my boys." I love my boys. They are sweet sensitive, and more thoughtful than they're given credit for. Of course, there are some who take up more than their fair share of my energy. They are usually the ones who have lots more on their emotional plate than they should at their age.
I am not a mother, but I think with my boys I feel a small fraction of what a parent must feel: pride, frustration, sorrow, joy, helplessness, hopefulness. My emotions have run the gamut. I have watched transformations- some good, some bad. I have seen boys grow into confident young men. I have seen boys find their own voice. I have also seen (thankfully not often) boys self-destruct.
Originally I was hired to teach Spanish. Now I primarily teach theology, the kind of theology classes that challenge my boys and me to be the best people we can be. As a result of trying to practice what I preach, I make extra efforts to relate to the kids who are not the easiest. For that same reason, I visited a boy in jail. When I became a teacher, never did I imagine I'd be visiting a student in jail. But even the boy I visited, who was convicted of some pretty horrible things, is still one of "my" boys. I think there are people who don't understand why I went or how I could possibly continue a relationship with him. To be honest, I'm not quite sure myself. However, I can't imagine doing otherwise. He was, and is, one of my boys. That's the best I can do to explain.
Normally at this point in the school year, I want nothing more than to be finished. This year I am not so eager. While I am excited for what's to come, the idea of leaving my boys, particularly the boys I have taught for 2 years who will graduate next year, makes me so sad. If I am back in the country by their graduation, I will certainly go.
I am so grateful for these last six years. I will cherish these last few days with my boys.