One of my favorite places to teach...
I would not have said that AT ALL when I first started. When I first started, I didn't know how long I would last. I thought maybe a few months would be my limit.
That was almost two years ago. I think. Time. It flies.
Each time I teach in a new environment, an old fear perks up: "Oh...this is it...this will finally be your limit...this will be the people with whom you won't be able to connect..."
I was convinced more than ever, though, when I went to teach teens who have had extraordinarily difficult lives.
I think maybe I was more wrong than ever with them.
Early on, I walked into class and shared with one of the first groups (they rotate) that I was having a bad day. That I was feeling really down but that was okay...I still had down times and that was perfectly normal for me and eventually I would feel better.
They just looked at me. One of the girls spoke up, "No adult has ever said that to us. They just act like everything is good all the time."
Over my many months now with them, these young and battered but resilient souls have taught me how to teach them.
And over the last few months, I've gotten really good at it. We've gotten really good at being in this experience together, even as the faces change.
Recently, something happened that truly exemplified how far I/we had come.
One of the young men -- one of the bravest humans I have had the honor to meet -- has decided he can ask me for a hug after class.
He was very clear with me that he was asking and that for him this was such a big deal and that it showed how safe he felt. I pointed out how much it said about his understanding of healthy boundaries, and I got one of his giant smiles in return, "Exactly."
I have hugging issues, too, that's the thing. I have safety issues, too. I have troubles with creating boundaries that can be a bit too rigid OR too permeable.
So this young man and I? Big time leaps in hugging and trust there.
Yes. One of my favorite places to teach, indeed.