Most of the time, I don't mind helping my students push through their teenage lives as they figure out who they want to be and what they are really capable of. But sometimes I wish I were less aware of their world, and I definitely wish I were less impacted by it. Some of them do, say, and think things that sadden me, and even terrify me at times. And even some of the "good kids" don't understand the value of kindness, respect, self-respect, humility, privacy, loyalty, trust, responsibility, grace, or gratefulness; they just fake it better than the rest. My heart breaks a little every time I learn what they're really like. I wish they could see themselves the way I believe they could be.
And I hope it doesn't sound selfish, but I'm so worn down from trying to teach these things to people who are practically adults--Teachers can't change a lifetime of habits for every single kid. I'm told that some teachers just want to teach their subject matter but I want to teach people. My main motivation in life is to help others reach their potential, regardless of what subject I'm teaching, and to help them know they are valuable and cared for. But I can't continue to do that when I'm so weakened by the drama and stress of their lives. And worse, when I'm treated with the same rudeness and manipulation that they treat their friends and family.
I'm always grateful when a former student comes back and either says "thank you" or even "I'm sorry" for the tough times I tried to help them through. But sometimes, I don't think it's worthwhile to keep trying just so that someone might come back in three months or three years with a little appreciation. I wish that students, and their families, realized how much their teachers sacrifice for them. Not just from our time or effort, but from our personal investment. It takes a lot to keep giving for every single student when we know most of them will never recognize it, and we know that some of them will even be rude to us for trying. When they complain so much about the teachers who don't care, why do they take for granted those who do? I guess that's another thing I still don't understand about working with teenagers.
People say that working with kids keeps us young. And sometimes I think that too, but sometimes I think it makes me feel older than I am. I do not understand this world of selfishness, judgment, and drama. I wish they knew there was a happier life available to them. And I wish I didn't feel my world being weakened by its proximity to theirs.