Thursday, March 29, 2007

Breaking Down

Okay, today was a bad day, made worse by the fact that there was no exact reason for it to be bad. My advisor told me she liked what she was reading and made some preliminary suggestions that included small things like "you have to use the date as well as the volume and issue when you cite articles." No, "elle, this is the worst thing ever!" I found out that I could bring some of the government docs from my university home, saving time and money. My car interior finally dried out from its shampooing and it was well worth the money.
And on and on.

And still, I felt out of sorts.

Then one of my students, a fresh-faced boy with a nice smile, came to my office after class to tell me he might miss an upcoming quiz. I had my generic look of disbelief pasted on and then he said:

"Because I got called back to active duty and I have a screening that day."

My jaw dropped. "Oh no," I said. "If you've been once-"

"That's the way it works ma'am," he told me.

At which point, my eyes filled and I shook my head. "But it's not fair," I said.

Of course, he tried to comfort me. "It's okay." he said. Then he smiled and tried to make a joke: "I'm going to try to get out of it."

When I didn't visibly "cheer up," he added, "And if have to go, it won't be until the fall, so I can finish the class."

That damned class was the last thing on my mind but I told him, quite feebly, "You'll be excused from whatever."

I know some people will be horrified, but I don't care that that kid saw me get emotional for a minute. All I could think was, My God, what if he doesn't come back?


Anonymous said...

You know, it's so easy to assume that what we do (as academics) should be the most important thing in a student's life, but as you know, it's not. They have lives and fears and struggles and whatever . . . just as we do. They are human; so are we. I think it's wonderful that you showed your student your own humanity, that you cared for him as a human (not just as a student). I've found that students repond so favorably to knowing that we have human emotions, too.

It's sad that he has been redeployed, but it's wonderful that he now knows you care about HIM.


Anonymous said...

You wouldn't be you if something like that didn't get to you. It saddens me just reading it when I think about how useless this whole "war" has been (my opinion of-course) and young men and women like him could be spending there time on something so much more meaningful then what they are being asked to do right now.

God bless him.

RageyOne said...

I agree with bf tx, you wouldn't be normal if you didn't feel something and it is perfectly normal to feel as you did. I hope the young man is able to get out of it or if he does go, he comes back. It just makes me so sad that so many of our young people are being loss in this war. :(

belledame222 said...


you mom once helped one of her former students get out of Iraq. i forget the exact process; he needed a letter of rec for formal discharge, or something.

i hope he's okay, your student. this whole thing bites.

Anonymous said...

wow. that is crazy.... in so many ways.

Kate said...

How could I be horrified that the student saw your emotion? I wasn't there, and my eyes are filling up!

My sister's boyfriend just found out he's going back, too.

I hate it all.

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