Tuesday, October 16, 2012

To You, My Student Who Hates Me

Today I slid a note into your hand as you were leaving class. "Thank you for being a good student in class today," it read. Scrawled below that was the translation written by my co-teacher after I'd asked her to do so. "I cannot make it exact words," she told me. I figured as much.

The thing is, you weren't really a good student as I'd choose to use those two words together. But today was much better. Today you didn't ball your fists by your side and visibly shake with rage as I was speaking to you. Alone. In the hall. Because you had been a total jerk in class.

Today I didn't humiliate you in front of your friends by pulling you out of the building to walk the school grounds with me, chastising you in a language you barely know. I didn't try to make you shake my hand today, an offer that made you fling your arms to your sides and spin violently away from me, brushing knuckles across the wall.

You want to hate me. The new teacher. The one who taps your head when you put it down in class. The one who bounces around the room like a monkey. A white monkey. I see you jeer at me. I hear you mumble under your breath when I come near. I don't need to know your exact words to understand what you are saying.

But it is what you do not know that I saw that makes me have a soft place in my heart for you.

I slid that note into your hand today after trying to pass it to you discreetly behind my desk. I did not want to embarrass you in front of your friends. But you did not understand what I wanted. And you jerked your arm away and yelled out in a way that had all eyes on you. Now, instead of a gentle passing of a few kind words on paper, I was forcibly grabbing at your hand. Prying your fingers out of their angry clenching. Take this! I yelled. Take this paper! Now we were absurdly dancing towards the classroom door. Arms pushing at arms. Dang it! Just take this note, will you?

When at last you figured out what was happening, you unfolded my message immediately.

I left you there to read my words while students filed in around you, bumping your shoulder and knocking the pen from your hand. Thank you for being a good student in class today. The corners of your mouth turned up slightly. I had yet to see you relax the tense muscles in your face until that moment. But you did. For the smallest amount of time.

But I saw it.

Then, it was if you remembered your commitment to rage, and the corners of your mouth slid- no, forcibly returned- into the scowl you seem to prefer. You crumpled up my note and tossed it in the small green trash bin by the door and quickly exited the room.

I saw you today. I saw you today. And I saw you smile.

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