My job requires that I exist somewhere between constant bemusement, amusement, and disbelief. I teach 6th graders. I know, you’re thinking I’m crazy. You’re right. But my students are some of the loveliest humans I’ve ever met. They are equal parts endearing and infuriating and I have stories that splash across that spectrum.
This one is perhaps my favorite of the sweet stories.
There is a passel of girls who are nosy and want to know things. For months they have mounted a campaign to weasel out whether or not I am married, or engaged, because it is a new thing for them to have a teacher who they must constantly remember to refer to as “miss”. They ask as often as they can without getting themselves in trouble, because they know it’s none of their business and they are toeing some kind of line that is out of bounds.
There is one little girl who loudly asks once a week with all the casual air she can muster, which is about as much as a brick flying through a window, “Do you have a boyfriend?”
And my standard answer is, “I can’t remember things that aren’t your business” (which always puts a kibosh on the incessant interest. At least for a few days.).
Loud One asks again during passing period, where she always stands as a double sentry with me, pointing out all of the kids who won’t have enough time to make it into the door before the bell. She asks again another week and then again the week after that.
One day, I finally ask, “Why are you all always asking, nosy?” because I think I already know the answer, and it’s that she is 12 and there is intrigue and mystery about young teachers who refuse to directly answer questions.
But I am wrong about why she asks. I’m wrong often when it comes to teaching but that’s always when I learn the most.
She shrugs and looks down the hallway at the kids scrambling to close lockers and avoid detentions.
“We want to know because we love you and we want to know that someone loves you when you go home, too.”
Yeah, that one sucker punched me in the heart.