The March Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers
I tend to be a forgetful person – not about ideas or student work or things I want to write about…. but about “stuff”. I forget where I put my keys, have hung the most comfortable winter coat, placed my warm cup of tea. And I am often like the plaid coated man in the above cartoon – I walk into rooms with great purpose, and then forget what that purpose was.
But I do remember faces – I remember the faces of all the kids I’ve ever taught, even as they morph into adulthood. Give me three seconds and a single line of conversation, and I can place the young man or woman standing in front of me, usually with a big smile and open arms. Which is a good thing.
But I am terrible, just terrible, about parent faces. Perhaps it’s because I meet them just once, on back to school night. Unless there is a learning or behavior issue, or that they are chaperoning the 6th. grade field trip, I do not see them again. I wish I did. I wish I could have them come to school for a night of poetry, or a writing celebration. But, that is not possible for a variety of building-specific reasons, so I don’t. This makes it very difficult when I do run into parents, which happens from time to time since the town I teach in is right next door to the town I live in (what was I thinking???!!!). So, I often have moments like this one, which took place yesterday at the local (i.e. my town) grocery store.
As I am reaching for a container of chicken broth, I hear a voice behind me say:
“Hi, Mrs. Smith! How nice to see you here!”
I turn around and there is a lovely lady, a parent, I am sure of it from the way she is smiling at me – that’s a smile of affectionate remembrance, but who?
After a moment or two of pleasant back and forth about the winter (every second of which I spend racking my brain to try and nail the identity of this nice lady), she says,
“Julia still talks about you – you were her favorite teacher!”
Julia! Now I have something to go on…so I search my memory for Julia’s – I have had twelve over the last ten years, which Julia could this be?
Julia’s mom shares some news about her – but it’s all very unspecific: she’s loving school – high school or college? she still plays soccer and the piano – well, that doesn’t help, most of my kids play a sport and an instrument. And she still has the copy of To Kill A Mockingbird that I inscribed just for her on her eighth grade graduation.
Oh, I think to myself instantly – that Julia!!!
And suddenly I see her face just as clear as day – Julia, with her long,curly hair. Julia, who often came after school to check out a book or chat about her day or ask for a lollipop. Julia, who left our school in order to attend a private Catholic high school, but who would stop by on school breaks and religious holidays. Julia, who wanted to be an anthropologist, because of Jane Goodall (every research project she ever did was always about Jane Goodall). Julia – who would be in her second year of college now.
Yes, I remembered Julia.
And, suddenly, our conversation turned real.