I cannot tell you how many people have asked the question if I am going to continue to work throughout chemo. And each time I look right at the person and say, “Of course!” But what about germs? Kids are gross! But what about the stress? Teachers have to make so many decisions and have so much responsibility! But what about being fatigued? Kids walk all over you when they think they can get away with it. I have heard all of the excuses of why I should take this “lucky break” from teaching. And all I can say to those people is a) you don’t know me very well if you think I could possibly get through this without my kids and b) you clearly don’t know teenagers very well, which is probably why you are NOT a teacher.
So, let me break it down piece by piece.
- Teens are gross – As soon as I told my kids that I was sick and needed their help keeping germs at bay in the classroom, my student, Martina, sweetly had the idea to buy me two large bottles of hand sanitizer. My Seniors presented them to me in gift bag and were ready to do anything to help me fight the big bad germ. Today my adorable little “germ monsters” all walked right over to that hand sanitizer and made major eye contact with me to make it known that they were following directions. At one point I had to tell one student that he didn’t get extra credit for hand sanitizing. One squirt was enough!
- Teens are stressful! – Why? Because they have real issues? Because they just want to be heard? Because the teenage years are freaking hard? Yes, the hormone monsters are real #bigmouth but let me tell you about my “stressful” teens. My babies are coming to the end of the semester. This is the worst time for IB as all of their IA’s are due, extended essays are becoming real, and exams are being prepped. And all of my underclassmen babies are freaking out about projects and finishing novels and exams. But I walked in today and they had taken the time to make me this:
These are also the same kids who made me an English jokes book when I told them I will need a lot of humor through all of this. Teens make me smile. Although today they succeeded in making me cry big freaking tears of love. I think Dr. Amy Fast said it best:
- Teens smell weakness – You better believe they do! They smell weakness and then wrap arms right around it and say, “Yep, I’ve been there, too.” Who better to know life kicking you in the ass than a teenager? If I walk into my class tomorrow and say, “hey, loves. Today is not my day and I just need you all to be your best and help me get through this,” I have no doubt in my mind they will rise to the challenge. Because they are teenagers and that is what they do best.
So no duh! I am going to continue working throughout my chemo. Because their education is too important and my sanity and health is too important and each goes hand-in-hand. The joy I gain from my job, the love I get from my kids, this is what is going to get my through one of the most difficult periods of my life. My six months of winter will be warmed by the hearts and minds of the amazing young people I get the pleasure to teach everyday. So watch out, Phil. I am armed with the hope of our youth and a boat load of hand sanitizer!