Today I got called a bitch by a sixteen year old girl because I caught her in a lie. It took everything in me not to call her a bitch right back. I didn't, because I'm an adult.
Tonight at the senior awards ceremony for the high school I had to honor and hug a student who hit my car this winter, knocked the mirror clean off resulting in $50 damage and refused to pay for it. It took everything in me to hug him. But this was a little different, because right before I moved to hug him, I saw his body language. His body language said "hey, I really want to hug you but I bet you really hate me and I don't want to be embarassed right here." I hugged him because I'm not only an adult, but I'm a big person, and I can forgive and forget $50.
After the awards ceremony, a student who means a great deal came up to me because he wanted to introduce me to his parents. Zach lost his younger brother in a car accident earlier this year and has been trying to deal with not only his grief, but the grief of his mother, father, and three other brothers. He is the oldest son and shouldering everything. He introduced us and his mom started to cry and she thanked me for everything I've done for her son this year. She said that I've impacted him. I said that he was a strong, courageous young man and that he was a role model to younger students. She said "He is?" And I told her about how Zach helped another student who lost his brother--the same age as Zach's--to suicide a few months ago. Zach is handling his grief privately from his parents to protect them.
Three students, two situations that place me on opposite ends of the spectrum and one in between. My having to bite my tongue to keep from calling the first student a bitch is balanced by the complete humility I feel whenever I'm around Zach, knowing that I will never understand his loss, can never understand his courage, and yet he and his family believe that I've impacted him.