Today a kid asked me what my religion was, I used to dodge that question, today I just told him. I don’t know why.
Episcopalian. I mean Christian. Episcopalian. Did you, like, grow up in the church? Yeah. My family’s very religious. He’s Catholic. Other kid nodded. He’s Catholic. I’m nothing. I mean, I’m a monotheist. I believe in one God. Oh.
I am nervous for a student who is performing in front of a huge crowd next week. Gave me a ticket. What is this? I said. I’m performing. I didn’t know you did anything. I do. Can you come? Yeah, I’ll be there. Nervous for my student who lives in a shelter, and gets paid to babysit, and is saving up so her parents can go out to dinner on their birthdays, which are close together. Nervous for my student who was interviewed, suspicion of child abuse, I don’t know what happened. Nervous for the student I told to be brave, cowards die a thousand deaths, but brave men, only one. It’s the opposite, actually, I think.
I won’t know how they are this summer, not that I will want to, really, I will, shortly, fall into the deep and peaceful sleep of summer, and my fingers and toes will tingle with remembering myself.
I’m going to this boot camp thing this summer. My dad is making me go. But I want to be a Marine, so it’s good to get used to this stuff.
I want to work at a nursing home. I wanted to volunteer there before, but I didn’t get to. My grandpa died of Alzheimer’s while I was in my mom’s stomach still.
Can you put your number on these applications? You’re my reference. Wait, you were fired from your summer camp job? No, it just ended. Well, then, don’t check that you’ve been dismissed or asked to leave a job. That means fired. Oh, okay.
Nervous to leave them, it is always hard to let them go. The first kids I let go were my first class of preschoolers, at that preschool all the classes had names, and they were the Triangles and the Astronauts. I still think about those kids, J, the dark-haired twin who laughed to screaming when I tickled him or when I told him we were having spiders for snack. B who made me read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas every day for weeks that summer. B and his best buddy R, always with their arms around each other, side by side, running to the block center to get some building done.
The kids for whom I made The Coloring Rules, a nonlinguistic guide to marker use in our room. An uncapped marker with a slash through it. An arrow showing a marker going back where it lived.
I quit my job at the preschool before I had another because I was so pained by the idea of leaving those kids. They are so intensely yours, for a while, you are the one they will run to demanding band-aids and how to spell a word, you are so theirs, and then they are not yours at all.
A kid I didn’t know at all happened to be in my room today, and while everyone else was leaving class, I saw he was bending over the trash can. Everyone else from that class had left already, he was alone there, throwing up. “You’re okay,” I said. I got him a chair, some gum, some water, a granola bar, Gatorade. “Thanks, Ms Schurman,” he said, a bunch of times. I didn’t know his name.
Image: Returning Home, Shitao, Metropolitan Museum of Art.