My mother wrote me an email:
As I write this I am imaging your upcoming last day with the Korean middle school students, especially the boys. I have dedicated my life to teaching middle school students, and the boys especially are quite unique. I think about your situation and imagine this: Those boys know how to say penis in two languages.
I'm finished (PINISH-ED, or even PINISHY, as my students often like to say). My last day was wild. And my mother's right. Those boys are unique.
At the beginning of the month I had a student named Tiger. I liked his name. It was great, compared to all the Kevins, Toms, Tommys, Johns and Steves I've had, but he wanted to change it. I scribbled all the boys names I could think of off the top of my head on the board and he picked Zach. Good name, but no Korean kid usually wants it because of the difficulty pronouncing the buzzing z sound ("We went to the jew" instead of ZOO). Zach's a big pudgy kid. Really smart, funny as hell. He's always smiling and he just loves to laugh. Sometimes he'd just get into laughing fits and the class just couldn't go on because he was laughing so hard he was in tears, and we were laughing just because he was laughing so hard. I knew Zach would laugh at my silliness and bad jokes... and he got me through the last three hours of teaching each night.
Yesterday he told me at the beginning of class, "I don't like you." Instantly, I'm having a heated conversation with myself in my head. I'm 12 years old again and I'm being tortured. Why should I care if this kid likes me or not. BUT Why don't you like me? What did I do wrong? What happened? You used to adore me! This is your last day Miss Koco... be fabulous. Then he tells me that his "Mother will hit" him because I didn't give him the student of the month award.
It's just a piece of paper. Last day. Last day. Last day. Last class. Who cares? I try not to have favorites, but I went into the teacher's room and grabbed one of the "awards," filled it out, and I gave him Student of the Month. It was nice to have Zach in my class this month. When I gave it to him he thanked me and turned bright red just before running off to go hit one of his friends.
I feel good, but it's not real quite yet. I still feel like I'm going to work on Monday. Maybe it will settle in when I'm on a plane.