Read it and Wonder

I want to talk about two things today.  One is about something I do, and the other is about something I hope I would do.  I’ll start with the latter, because it’s not exactly an uplifting topic and I hate leaving posts on a sad, depressing note.

What I hope I would do: My Sister’s Keeper

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I recently finished reading My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, and while I was unbelievably surprised at the ending (seriously, if you haven’t read it, go find it at the library…right now) I have to say the hardest piece of the story for me to digest was, we

ll, all of it.

 *spoiler alert*

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be the mother of a sick child.  Heck I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a mom (or a wife, for that matter).  I can’t imagine what it would be like to hear that curing my sick child would involve multiple procedures, trips to the hospital, and countless encounters with bodily fluids that a mother of a healthy child would hopefully only see once a year when baby girl got the flu or scraped her knee.  I can’t imagine being told that I could have a child be a perfectly matched donor because science is advanced enough to pick out the one life-saving embryo.  

But I would hope I could make the decision to realize when my child’s quality of life has deteriorated enough that the best decision is to let go.  I know this is easier to say when I don’t have a kid who’s sick, let alone a kid who’s healthy, but wouldn’t it be better to let them go than to put them and their donor sibling through countless procedures, hospital visits, and rounds of chemo?  Wouldn’t it be better to make them comfortable as they leave this world than subject them to years of sickness and pain.

I’m aware that this is easy to say when I’m not one of the many moms watching her child die, and I don’t mean to disrespect anyone who has had to go through this and has tried everything in their power to save their child.  Truth is I don’t know what I would do, but I hope I know when to call it quits if I do find myself fighting this battle with a little one.

What I do: Who were you or who will you be?

Over the past semester I got into the habit of trying to see my students in the future.  I would look at them and think what will you be like in second grade?  Who will you go to homecoming with in high school?  What will you look like walking into college for the first time?  Who will you marry?  You know, trying to see them not only in the here-and-now, but for who they will turn out to be when I’m no longer their teacher.  

I do this with kids on the street too.  And kids in commercials.  Pretty much every kid I see on a daily basis I end up wondering who they will be when they grow up.  I do this not to be creepy, but to remind myself that kids are more than cute, germ-carrying, unintentionally wise-cracking tiny humans.  They are people.  People that will grow up into someone meaningful, someone who will fight for our country, teach others, run a company, maybe even try to fix our government.  I don’t teach just kids, I teach people.

Well this habit has now reversed itself and I start trying to see the kids in adults.  So much so that yesterday when I was sitting in the sauna at the gym I found myself staring at a lady approximately five feet away from me.  I was thinking who were you growing up?  What games did you play?  Who were your friends? Did you like school?

And then she turned and looked at me, and I realized I had been “wondering” far too long.

Oops.

It was then I became aware that I have to limit the amount of time I spend with these wonderings.  Note to self: imagine who these people were as kids or who they will be as adults, but try to catch yourself before they catch you!

But I’m not going to stop wondering who these people are, or who my students will become.  I’m going to keep asking myself these questions, because then, and only then, can I get to know them for who they really are.

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2 comments

  1. Jodi Picoult’s writing hits a little too close to home for me to enjoy, honestly. I grew up as the sibling of a child with serious medical issues. I’ve watched my mom give over two decades of her life to caring for my brother, and I’ve seen the toll it’s taken on her. My mother is an incredible woman, but reading My Sister’s Keeper was hard for me. I didn’t try any of her other books.

    I completely agree with the second part of your post, though! I stand in a room full of teenagers, just seeing the very first glimpses of who they’ll turn out to be as adults. It’s fascinating to think about! Just one of the many things that makes our job so darn cool.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about the things your family has experienced. For each family, going through these kind of things hits a different nerve, results in a different outcome. I hope your brother is well.

      Also, congrats on being back in the classroom! Must feel good 🙂

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