Every day these little vignettes pass me by, when Sunday's peace seems a distant memory and I'm just trying to make it through another week. But now that I have a five-day weekend to reflect (thank you, late winter storm!) I find them coming back to me, making me smile all over again.
- We've just finished learning venir, to come, and bid goodbye to the early-dismissal track star; as she leaves, I explain to the class that revenir, to come back, is conjugated the same way. "So if you want to ask someone to come ba--," and inspiration cuts me off. I stride to the doorway and shout, "REVIENS!" She halts, bewildered, and the class dissolves in laughter. Meanwhile, the students in the hall get a sneak preview of my new advertising campaign for the French program.
- My favorite lesson of the whole year happens to be the day of my annual observation. I guide the class in the rhythmic tapping of iambic pentameter, the beating of the heart through the poet's words. Da-DUM. Da-DUM. Da-DUM. Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight, sweet prince! Oh no, it is an ever-fixed mark. Titania waked and straightway loved an ass. Hyperbole, metaphor, double entendre. Richly-laden lines twist over and around them until their own are pouring forth: Australia is a lovely place to be. My doggie loves to play and roll in snow. Morning coffee suddenly sounds poetic, and sunburned afternoons call to them from future summers. When the bell rings, my department chair apologizes for staying through the whole period: "I just didn't want to leave."
- Midway through a quiz, a student decides to reword a sentence and spends a good three minutes crossing it out. Her laborious scraping of pen on paper is finally interrupted with the clean smack of a whiteout pen on her desk, delivered with silent reproach by her neighbor who doesn't even look up from her own work. I can't help but laugh: that girl will make a great mom someday.
- During a "free" period as I'm hustling through the next batch of papers, I comment on one: "When I die, I want you to write my obituary." I am completely serious. If she can make a paper about Salinger sound as fresh and hopeful as he wasn't, I imagine she could do a lot for my posthumous public image.
- Two separate parents, within a week of each other, thanked me for being hard on their children. "This is part of growing up," one said. "She needs to take responsibility for her actions," said another. My faith in modern parenting ceased its precipitous freefall and actually took a few halting, hopeful steps back toward the light.
- In the stairwell, as students jostle each other to get to break and I attempt to keep out of the way, I spot one who is particularly pained by the tangle of backpacks and ponytails. "This is SO not ideal," she huffs. I suppress a smile, but as I consider her words over the next few days, I realize it's a perfect thesis statement for my life. Maybe for yours, too.