Today a girl at school entered my office at 8:00. I don’t know her well, only from a study hall. Once I teased her about how many letter A’s there are in her name. She was wearing gym pants and staring at the floor and then she looked at me and said, so quietly that I could barely hear her, “Miss Fred?”
Years ago kids at school started calling me Fred. I guess Ms. Fredrick sounded too formal and they were not comfortable with Kelly, so I just became Fred. Today was the first time anyone put “Miss” is front of it.
She went on to explain how her pants had caught on the door and ripped and she was wondering if I could sew them up for her, which I agreed to do and so she quickly changed in the bathroom and handed me her tiny jeans. She stood behind me as I worked, silently awkward, but beaming with appreciation.
Sometimes things like that happen and if you aren’t paying attention you just think that they were incidental, but later in the day I realized that there was a lesson in there for me. A lot of things in my life have been tearing apart at the seams, really for more than a year now. I have been trying to keep everything together and maintain levels of normalcy the best I can …. Going through the motions, wearing sweatpants over my ripped denim for months now. After that girl left my office and I thought about how hard it was and how brave it was if her to ask for help, especially because she was embarrassed and shy.
Our exchange reminded me that it’s okay to seek counsel, even from strangers, even if it’s really scary to ask and that sometimes holes are easily mended in the right hands.
I am waiting to hear about a big illustration job… One that I really, really want, one that could certainly turn things around financially and bring us some breathing room. I imagine it could lead to freelancing full time. This is something I have been imagining quite a bit lately because my seventh hour class is killing me. I imagine dropping the kids off at school and then spending the day drawing in a sunny studio, warm coffee on my desk, a dog curled up at my feet…
But then there are moments of exchange like this morning that remind me that sometimes the best teachers in the world are fifteen years old and that teaching is a valuable art.