In the early mornings this time of year, the Peruvian Apple cactus is still blooming from the night before, when it pulled back its red outer petals to reveal the snowy white nectarfest for bats and moths. Now that school is back in session, I don't get to spend much time poking around in the early morning, waiting with my camera for such creatures. I do come home in the evenings, however, to good light and evening creatures.
In our family we have a scientist cat named Reggie who checks every day to make sure that the concept of gravity still holds true. Every day, he jumps up to some elevated surface and finds something to bat at—a fork or pencil, say—until he knocks it off the table or desk or countertop and down to the ground. Once he's satisfied that gravity still applies, he'll jump down and immediately roll over to be petted as a reward for his scientific discoveries.
Lately, I feel like that fork or pencil that Reggie knocked off the table. I fell into the school year this year with a solid and painful splat.
I wrote a whole draft of this post in which I complained about the difficulties, sustained and new, that this year brings. And then I erased it all. My complaints won't get me anywhere. They don't help me feel better, and they don't help anyone else feel good either. I know that Sir Reginald Newton is going to metaphorically knock me off the table every day. Every day.
Yet, in my classes, there is a kid who raises his hand before thinking, and many who think and never raise their hands. There's a girl with teeth too big for her face, and the sweetest little laugh; she's decided she's my shadow and she follows me everywhere. There's the angry boy who is whipsmart and practically growling. The girl who laughs too loud, but man, she's really funny. The kid who comes by every day after school to make sure he's doing his homework correctly. The one who emails me to remind me daily to update my class website because he was looking at it and it was already out of date and he wanted me to know so that no one would fall behind. And the one who needs to be reminded why the dress code exists. Why freshman English matters. Why English matters. Why anything matters.
Each of these kids walks into my room and I love each one of them. I can't help it. I'm hardwired that way.
These kids deserve, and more importantly, need the best out of me whether I can give it or not. So, I'll give it. I'll rally, every day. I'll prove gravity wrong.
Just a warning though: my fist shaking is on the trembly side.
When I'm not rallying for the classroom, I'll be sucking up the peace of the soil, the unclutteredness of the sky, and be comforted by the way neither the soil nor the sky need anything out of me.