Valentine’s Day has always been a rather ‘meh’ holiday for me. My family isn’t big on it (my father, the professor, once famously scheduled an evening exam on February 14th) and the one year I actually had an SO on Valentine’s day, we were on different continents. Timing, I excel at it.
Anyway. When I think of Valentine’s day, if I think of it at all, I tend to think of it as a day to recognize the people in my life that I love. Not the One Person I Love Above All Others With An All-Consuming Passion That Is Totally Healthy (Sarcasm), but the people who make my world a little warmer. The people who inspire fiercest emotions in me.
This year, and today, especially, after work, I am thinking about my students.
I love my students. It’s a cliche, I know, but it is absolutely true. I love them. I love their potential, their passion, their pride. I love when they pretend to be cool. I love when they forget to be cool because they’re so excited about something we’re talking about. I love when they tease each other and help each other and relate everything to Batman and speak in Hmonglish and call each other vieja and call me Pikachu because they can’t remember my name. I love them.
I love the AVID program. I love the environment we create and are a part of. I love having coworkers who are capable, flexible, dedicated, and respectful. I love that my supervisors are the same. I love being surrounded by people who are passionate about helping our kids, who inspire that passion in me, who value my contributions and whose contributions I value.
I love that we expect these same qualities in our students – and that they learn to expect the same qualities in each other. I love when they start to get it. I love when they mock our procedures and rules even while following them. I love when their banter and peer pressure becomes a positive force for individual and group success. I love when students explain things to each other without my prompting. I love when students ask questions about a class they’re not even taking. I love when they take over an activity and suddenly I’m just an observer and it’s lonely but I’m just so proud it fills the lonely hole with an abundance of warmth and love.
I don’t have children, but I think this must be a little of what it’s like to be a parent. To be so incredibly invested in the success and happiness of our children. There’s a fierceness to this love, an overwhelming sense of protectiveness and pride and determination that they will do well in life. Mama Lioness defends her cubs with one paw and uses the other to push them to achieve.
My cubs. My kids. My children. Mis hijos. I think of them that way, truly. Mijos. It’s a little silly, maybe, since I’m only five or ten years older than them. They’re not actually my children, nor could they be. Maybe it’s more of an older sibling sentiment; I’ve never been a mother, so I don’t know. But I don’t think of them that way. They’re not my hermanos or my hermanitos, or even niños.
Son mis hijos. Y los amo con la fuerza de la leona y el calor del sol.