I'm hoping for a lot of things this next school year, but most immediately on my mind:
* to make at least one child feel incredibly good about him/herself.
* to speak encouragement into the life of some person I see daily, whether it's a child or co-worker.
* to be real and approachable with my kids.
* to let the light and life of Jesus Christ shine through my every action, while never proselytizing-- legally, I'm bound to do it with my mouth shut, and it's a law I believe in. I don't think that I would like my child to be evangelized by a person whose faith did not line up with mine, especially when they're in such a powerful position in my child's life. However, I am persuaded that the God I serve is the one true and loving God, and that His desire is to love every person created...and to use me as a vessel for that love. And that's legal every day of the week :)
* to not complain when I am uncomfortable or put out in some way
* to not join in complaining when someone else is uncomfortable or put out!
* to find ways to inspire my students and to coax their most creative, confident selves out into the open
* to add to this list as it occurs to me...
I'm also determined to separate "this time last year" from this year in my mind and heart. Already, I'm remembering that it was when we were getting school IDs made that my friend Joy looked at me and said, "You're pregnant!" when I told her I wasn't feeling great. And it was true. It's true that, "this time last year" I was about three weeks pregnant with my son and I did not know it. I did not know that the most exhilirating and heart crushing season of my life had just commenced. On Monday, I will re-live that day when I visit with Joy while watching the kids, whose names I do not know yet, stand in line for their IDs. I will remember that she told me that I needed to eat some crackers. I will remember that she looked so proud of herself that she had been the one to tell me, and that even the next day, when I wasn't feeling as crummy, she was still convinced.
It will be important that I not cry.
There are some times that it will be okay to cry, but on the first day of school, I don't feel that it will be incredibly important.
I've been asked if I'm going to tell my students about Ben and the answer is yes. I kind of have to. The thing is, we know that teenagers are really great at getting the word out about things, but sometimes their information is...questionable. Honestly, I don't know what last year's students know or don't know, even though the counsellors at my school are personal friends of mine (one of them is a very close friend) and gave them accurate information the day after he died. I heard from one woman (read it in a thread on Facebook, actually) that she was at her doctor's office the Friday after Ben died (it happened on a Tuesday-- but of course, you know that...) and overheard two students talking about it. They were saying that Ben had died of swine flu or something...nice. She set them straight, thankfully, but it occurred to me then: go ahead and just tell them the story. Keep it brief, but let it be personal. They know that it had to hurt, and they'll appreciate my honesty, and they'll appreciate being entrusted with that information. It's not a secret and it is one of the most important things that has ever happened to me.
Which leads me to the "how" of what my plan is. On the first day of school, we'll do lots of stuff, but one of the things we will do is an introduction piece. I will introduce myself to them and share with them about Ben. Then I will ask them to think of the most important thing that has ever happened to them-- doesn't have to be the saddest thing, but just the most important thing so far-- and write about it (of course, I will remind them that I am a "mandatory reporter" and they should be very wise about what they choose to put down-- if they don't want the social worker to know, they should consider not writing it down...).
And voila: we begin to know each other.
And I have a platform for talking about the importance of literature in our culture, in our lives, in the lives of writers-- everything.
Alright. Off to continue the work of school.
It's good to have this new season. Even if it's not what I had envisioned for this year. It's going to be okay.