In 2004 I completed my first year of teaching. It was slightly overwhelming, but a lot of fun. I worked at a great high school and I got to teach some pretty cool seniors. One of those, L, found herself in an unexpected predicament; pregnant just months before graduating. L hid the pregnancy as best she could, but I was on to her. This normally petite and svelte young lady was wearing baggy clothes that poorly hid an ever blossoming round belly. I tried to pry the truth out of her, but she'd just look at me and smile. Finally, I got one of her friends to spill the beans, this after L had disappeared on "vacation." I asked L's friend to let her know that I didn't care, that the baby didn't change my opinion about her, and that I was there if she needed anything.
When L came back to school after having her baby boy, the first thing I did when I saw her was give her a great big hug. Her eyes welled up with tears only a mother who has left her child for the first time knows. When L graduated, I gave her a card and tried to write what I thought would be meaningful, goals on what to teach her son. It was something along the lines of being a loving man, to respect women, to work hard, and not be afraid of failure. L and I remained in contact over the years having traded emails, and now keeping tabs on each other via FB. Her son is a handsome young man who by all accounts is a wonderful human being.
What I am most proud of is what L has done with her life. As a single mother she has managed to not let the unexpected gift of her son derail her life. She is gainfully employed and just closed on her first house; an impressive nine thousand square foot beauty in Las Vegas, complete with a gorgeous pool. It is more of a house than I ever expect to own. She posted a picture of it to which I left her a message telling her how proud I was to have been her teacher. This was her response:
Thank you so much, means a lot. The start of my change all started with
you. It's people like you who take that extra time to help people that make
all the difference. Thank you for that.
Many folks judged L for keeping the baby. And while at the time I was nervous for her, I tried very hard not to scoff at her decision. I don't know that I would have been able to do what she did at her age - hell, I'm still a little nervous about doing it now at thirty-three! She is the epitome of a success story, a young woman with her priorities straight, and a work ethic that would impress most people twice her age. Seeing what she has done with her life, not only fills me with hope, but reassures me that even though the unexpected sometimes happens, it's what you do with it that counts.
You see? Just another example of why teaching pretty much rocks. I get to meet, teach, and become friends with extraordinary young men and women. And in teaching them, they educate me.
So damn proud of you, L.