When Students Cry
I know I shouldn’t hug them, but I can’t seem to stop, though I’m sure HR would advise it. I’d like to stop their crying as well, but that’s even less tractable. Like the girl last fall who came to my 8:00 class wearing loose shirts and, after arriving late one day, told me she was pregnant.
“Congratulations,” I’d murmured, because I say the wrong things.
“It’s not a congratulations type of thing,” she’d responded. With two kids already, she also worked at the hospital—yet she assured me she’d “be okay.” She wasn’t due until winter break and was pretty sure she’d be able to finish the class.
She suffered morning sickness and missed frequently or arrived late, but she went for tutoring when I told her to get extra help. She used the computer at the public library near her apartment and came to my office hours where she confessed she didn’t know how to write “so that things sounded right.” I didn’t have to ask what she meant, but encouraged her that the more she read, the easier it would become. Some days she was so tired she cried. I told her then I admired her—she was doing something harder than I could imagine. Of course I hugged her.
In the last week of the term, she sent me an email with the subject line “sorry.” I sighed when I saw it—this time of year many students were sorry. As I read on, she apologized because she was in labor and wouldn’t be in class.
She wrote, “I have my laptop and my mom will deliver the final drafts to your office.” That’s where I found them the next morning, curled up in my mailbox, like my own new arrival.
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