Untitled: I Just Don’t Have the Words

I have tried to say something meaningful here

dozens of times since I last posted.

All the starts turned into stops to catch my breath.

Every word typed was eventually

deleted because it wasn’t. . .

right.

I just don’t have the words,

but I will try:

I don’t quite have the confidence

or competence

to tell other educators what to do

when I myself am traipsing through this unknown terrain,

praying each step I take is safe for the children and me.

I would like to be able to say that I am going before them

like the protective Momma Bear I am inclined to be.

But that is a lie I cannot tell.

The truth is, we’re

lado a lado,

desperately holding onto one another

for protection from the dangers we can

and cannot see.

Separately, the children and I

cannot. bear. the. burdens.

Together, we are a force.

Contrary to what people

who do not work with children

would like you to believe,

my beautiful Brown babies are learning

— a lot.

They were offended when I told them

what the media was reporting.

And though when I ask them what about school brings them joy

they sometimes mention fractions

and books

and social studies,

what they mostly talk about is love.

They love themselves, just as they are.

“I love being a Mexican American.”

They love each other, fiercely.

“I don’t wanna log off. I miss you guys already.”

They love me, with a passion

I don’t deserve.

“I’m so glad you’re feeling better, Ms. J.

You’re the best teacher in the world.”

And they love the world in which they live

enough to want to change it.

“The past and the present are connected.

We should notice how they are.

If we look to the past

and bring what we learn to the present,

we can change.

I want to change.

I want to include people in things.”

We have faced many challenges,

personal and school-related,

together since we were rushed off campus

on March 13, 2020.

And though I know with certainty

we are better readers,

writers,

mathematicians,

scientists,

and historians

today than then,

what really matters is that we,

all of us,

are more compassionate human beings.

We live

and work

week after week

with the certainty

that our classroom community is. . .

fuerte,

that we are infinitely

better together than we are apart.

Each one of us has a lot to teach

as well as learn.

We know that the ideas of the child

who writes paragraphs at warp speed

are not more valuable

than those of the one who has to

“write in the air”

because they cannot yet

put pencil to paper in

conventional ways.

When they ask to speak,

they prove what we already know:

“I wrote thank you to Biden

for wanting to keep my family together.

Trump wanted to send my parents

back to Mexico.”

Palabras give us the gift of expression,

but being an emergent multilingual

does not mean

that your thoughts are not powerful

and your heart is not burdened,

that you do not deserve a place

at the table where we are all somehow

(be)com(ing).

I guess that’s the punto

I have been meandering toward

since the first words I typed and let

be:

I cannot tell you what to do.

I have no magic formula,

no silver bullets.

But I offer this advice to you:

In the midst of all this

stress,

confusion,

chaos,

and,

yes,

darkness,

do not miss out on the opportunity

to love the tiny humans

on the other side of the screen or plexiglass.

Welcome them with a smile.

Sing with them.

Laugh with them.

Dance with them.

Learn alongside them.

Make a fool of yourself for them.

Humble yourself enough to know

that school is not the only place where children learn.

Their families and communities teach them

the things most essential to their survival.

Many of our children are safer at home

where they can keep their identity

and dignity

intact.

And while I implore you to love them,

do not be confused about what I mean.

Love is not pity.

Love does not always make

hard things easy.

Love supports

and challenges.

Love makes us take

long, hard looks

at ourselves

and our biases.

Love tears down systemic barriers

— permanently.

Love prioritizes.

Love speaks truth to power

for the sake of our children.

Love finds a way

where there seems to be no way.

Love is a force.

Together, in love, WE are a force.

And though we may stumble,

and even fall,

we must continue to hoist one another up.

One thought on “Untitled: I Just Don’t Have the Words

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