Friday, June 15, 2018

a letter to my kids

First of all, whether you like it or not, "my kids" is how I will always think of you. No matter where you go in life or what you do, keep that in the back of your head. Hear my voice telling you "You're better than that" when you're thinking about doing something dumb, or "I knew you could figure it out" when you've pushed your way through to doing something spectacular that nobody else noticed.

My first year of teaching was hard, and when I left those kids it broke my heart a little. So when I started teaching you guys, I told myself that I would keep my distance. But then, you all pushed aside the barriers I had put in place like they were nothing. It didn't take long for you all to get into my heart.

I know I frustrated you beyond belief by saying, "I don't know--what do you think?" when you asked me questions in class. I hope you know that I said that because I had faith in you and knew you could figure it out if you worked just a little harder. Remember that going forward, because it's true about most things in life. If you'll work just a little harder and push yourself just a little more than you think you can, you can figure out how to deal with just about anything that comes up. I believe in you.

That's why it breaks my heart now to leave you. It wasn't something I planned to do--I figured I would see all of you through to graduation. The thing is, quite often God's plans for us are different than the plans we make for ourselves. And when He opens a door, no matter how scary or how far out of your comfort zone it is, you need to step through.

The last three years have meant so much to me. It has been a privilege to be your math teacher, even when you were asking me when you would ever use math in your future (and I hope my voice pops into your head every time you use math in the real world, telling you "But you never use math in the real world...!"). You guys have challenged me in ways I never thought possible, both good and bad.

You've tested my patience and pushed ALL my buttons. I've stayed up late more nights than I can count, trying to figure out how to get through to some of you. I've prayed for you. I've cried tears over you, believe it or not. My heart has broken for you all time and time again. I've seen you all hurt each other (and told you that you know better) and I've seen you deal with hurts kids should never have to deal with. You've pushed me to the edge more than once, leaving me struggling to hold on to my sanity.

At the same time, though, you all have brought me so much joy. You've made me laugh and smile even on my hardest days. I've seen some of you all grow from awkward junior high kids trying to figure out who you are to young men and young women who are finding your places in this world. I've seen you stand up for each other and push each other to be better. I've watched you work through math problems you never thought you could handle, and I've seen the pride in your eyes (even if you wouldn't admit it). I've seen you become better people, and it has been an amazing thing to get to watch.

It hurts to think that I won't be with you guys all the time as you finish your high school careers, but it eases my heart and mind to know that I'm leaving you in good hands. My sister is an amazing math teacher, and she will love you guys as much as I have. Don't give her too hard of a time, but push a little bit--she needs that from time to time. I know you all are going to love her and find your way into her heart, too.

Know I'm always here if you need me. I'm in the phone book (or stop by--most of you know where we live) or shoot me an email or facebook message. I know I'm a little hard to read sometimes, but know that I love you guys. Sometimes it's tough love, but sometimes that's what you need. Like I said at the beginning, you're my kids and you always will be. That means I want nothing but the best for you. You will still be in my prayers and my thoughts, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for you.

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