Occasionally, I’ll sit at my desk for a few minutes and watch my students as they go about whatever routine it is they’re involved with.
Just a quick thought: I’m a teacher, writing for an audience that is, in all likelihood, mostly teachers. The phrase, “I’ll sit at my desk” is difficult to type without thinking that someone, somewhere, is probably poo-pooing the idea that I’d actually sit at my desk while my students did their thing. To those few teachers I say that eventually you’ll hit your thirties and understand.
Another quick thought: That first thought was my attempt at humor. Please, just accept me. I like me...you can like me, too.
Okay, where was I? Right...watching my students while I drink coffee. (Darn, I did it again!)
Watching students as they develop the ability to develop relationships is a difficult thing. At any given time, I want to walk over and stop them with a, “Hold on there sport, you’re screwing things up,” or a “Really, do you really mean to talk to your friend like that?” “You know that’s not a nice way to put that, don’t you?” “I think you should figure out a nicer way to say that, don’t you?”
Relationships are hard, especially when you’re 9 years old. Or 52. 34 isn’t too easy, either. No one says it’s a piece of cake at 45, and I’ve never heard that being over 60 makes it any less difficult. Nope, relationships are hard.
So, Tim, how is this a slice of your life? I’m getting there.
Last night I was at a friend’s house. He’s the artist I mentioned a few slices ago. Here’s the weird thing about the first sentence in this paragraph: “A friend.” As a guy, I have a lot of people I call friends. We talk school, or football (I’m not a fanatic, but conversant), or woodworking, or families, but honestly, there’s not a lot of depth to our friendships. But this guy, the one I was hanging out with last night? He’s a friend, an actual friend. With depth. I don’t have a lot of those (as in, I can count them on one hand and have fingers left over), so this is pretty cool. As our conversation went on, I was thinking about how our relationships (we’re both married with daughters) took effort to maintain and nurture. Effort we both gladly give, but effort nonetheless. Even if you’re not a third-grader, relationships take work.
Just before I left to head home, my phone dinged the Facebook Messenger ding. I don’t get a lot of those (not a big Messengerer), and when I do it’s oftentimes someone I haven’t heard from in a while. One of the joys of having an uncommon name is that I’m easy to find on social media.
I said my good-byes to the family, got in my truck, and pulled to the end of their driveway before reaching for my phone. To distill a really long story into just a sentence or two or three, this was a message from a friend from 20-plus years ago (not uncommon for us retired military folk). Up until this point in time, I’d only heard (second hand) his ex-wife’s side of the story of their separation 15 years ago. Kinda out of the blue, he was telling me his side (a difficult story, but told succinctly) and asking if we could reconnect and be friends. In essence, would I accept him? We could be friends if that’s what I want.
Relationships are hard. I told him that my response to their situation is that I’m sorry for the heartache they both must have gone through. That’s it. Of course I accept him (though those weren’t the words I used--this is a long-story-short and all that).
We are who we are, and what else could I say? This wasn’t the time to be philosophical or theological or even entomological (levity to ease my tension).
We’re fortunate to have people in our lives to help us through our years. Love the ones you’ve got.
Tomorrow’s slice is going be about football. Something easier...maybe kittens.