(The following is a first-draft response. It’s unfinished and needs work, but this will show you what my process looks like. When I get stuck and don’t know what to write next, I leave myself a note about what needs to be added or changed and then move on to the next idea I have.)
My first year of teaching was probably the most difficult year of my life. Fresh out of university, I was working full-time at a public school, teaching essay-writing to Korean students at a private academy part time, and tutoring on the weekends. I lived in Coquitlam and commuted daily to Langley, which was often an hour’s drive each way. I lived in an overpriced, run-down single-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend who I was supporting through university, a dog with a bladder-control issue, a cat who didn’t like people, and more dust bunnies than I cared to acknowledge. Money was a constant issue, and despite my three jobs, we played Bill Roulette regularly: spin the wheel and see who we don’t pay this month.
In general, life was stressful.
I mean, it can be tough enough to be a new teacher. Every bit of energy you have is poured into your students while you hope and pray and cross your fingers that no one realizes you have no idea what you’re doing. You don’t have time to get your marking done. You don’t have time to get your prep work done.
In general, you just don’t have time.
And then one day, something happened that has stuck with me all these years. A decade later, I can still remember the feeling of that moment – a moment WRITE A BETTER TRANSITION HERE……
After a particularly trying day and slow commute from my day job to the Learning Center, I was certainly in no mood to hold productive conversations with kids about essays. I was late and certain I was going to be fired. I was hot and cranky and hungry and wanted nothing more than to go home and hide until the world decided it couldn’t find me. I ran up the stairs and burst through the door to my little classroom.
And there, waiting for me, was one of the little boys in my writing class. He was holding out his hand to me, his fingers cupped around his palm as though it protected the most precious and delicate of creatures ready at any moment to slip his grasped.
“I brought you something,” he said, this accent thick and sweet.
He opened his little fingers and revealed a perfect red raspberry plucked from one of the bushes that grew wild around Coquitlam.
He put the raspberry in my hand, and I marveled at its warmth, a mark of his care and protection. This little boy, who lived half a world away from his own family, who attended school for twelve hours a day, who faced a language barrier that could cripple a grown man, had spent his afternoon cradling this gift for his teacher.
And in that moment the stress and the bills and the traffic and the chaos of my life melted from my shoulders. I felt physically lighter. While I had been consumed by the trappings of modern living, he had just wanted to bring a little bit of joy to an adult in his life.