Our oldest niece started high school last week. Well, she started at the 9th grade academy, which she insists is NOT high school. But as a former high school teacher, I know that 9th grade IS high school. And I simply cannot believe that she is old enough to be one of my crazy kids.
Yes, I often called my students “my crazy kids.” Anyone who has ever been around teenagers knows that they are often quite crazy. They are caught in this weird in-between world—not a little kid, but most definitely not an adult. During some moments, they say the most profound things and impress you with their intellect. And in the next breath, you are telling them to “STOP IT,” all while trying desperately not to lose your temper with this ridiculous person.
I had numerous talks over my 17 years of teaching with students about making good choices, doing their homework, focusing in class… During one particular conversation, I remember a young man asking, “Do you need to talk to my mom?” To this, I responded, “No, I don’t need to talk to your mom! You are in 9th grade! You are in high school now and you need to take responsibility and talk to me like you are nearing adulthood.”
But now that my oldest niece is that kid…. Is she really “nearing adulthood?!” In all honesty, I’m anxious about her starting 9th grade. I know what a crucial year this is. I want her to enjoy school and learn a lot and do well academically. I know how vital grades become as they go on permanent transcripts that will be sent off to colleges in a few short years…
But what can I really do from halfway across the country as my niece goes off to the big 9th grade center with all those scary high school teachers? (That’s what the kiddos used to say about me—that I was “scary.”)
I’ve prayed and I will continue to pray that she has a wonderful school year. I’ve texted and asked her how the first day of school went. To which I got the elaborate response of “pretty good.” I’ll continue to check in and I’ll ask her for more details when I call and when we visit in person.
But honestly, I have to remember that her teachers are most likely just like me… I really wasn’t “scary.” I was no nonsense and held my students to high expectations. I treated them like they were going to be in college in a few short years because they were. And I saw them as young adults, not little kids.
I do realize more clearly now why their parents too often tried to swoop in and protect them from scary Profe, though. To them, these kiddos were still their littles… You look at them and remember the first time you held them, the drumming on the coffee table, and the silly face that Uncle Dane taught them to make… It surprises you that they are as tall as you are now and you really want time to slow down just a little bit…
So, teachers, please try to remember that these “crazy kids” are in fact that—kids. And their parents are probably just as nervous (if not more so) about their littles going off to the big, bad high school (or 9th grade academy, as the case may be).
And parents, please try to remember that the teachers really do love these “crazy kids.” And because they love them, they will push them and encourage them and expect them to be their best—standing on their own two feet without the protection of Mom and Dad.
And “crazy kids,” try to remember that all these adults care about you and only want what is best for you. So, when your aunt texts you about the first day of school, please give her more than a two word answer!