I cry when I hold babies. Not every time–probably less than a quarter of the time–but enough to say babies make me cry.
This tends to worry people (often new mothers, unfortunately), especially since I’ve never been able to place that feeling or accurately describe what it is that overwhelms me so much. I know at least part of it comes from thinking about all the possible places that baby could end up, though. It’s extremely powerful to look down into a tiny, biologically ‘cute’ face and let your mind run through all the different things, awful and wonderful, that are in store for the human being behind it. I don’t think anything is more moving than Potential.
- I met bits and pieces of our 2011 corps this weekend, and I was inspired by a very similar feeling (I’m not calling them babies, though I did refer to them as such more than once…). Aside from my RA-instincts kicking in like crazy (we’re talking name-remembering and validating and reassuring like nobody’s business) what I felt after talking to these mostly-pretty-reserved but incredibly interesting (of course!) people was this life-stopping need to stand in awe of what they Could Be (They were FANTASTIC. I’m going crazy trying to keep from abandoning my students altogether and planning nonstop for all the ways I’m going to look out for them come August). (I’m feeling deliciously parenthetical today!)
- I had a tutoring session at Bill Miller’s with my Brat yesterday. Now THERE’s a pile of potential. This girl is so close, and has been so close for years, but thinks she’s stupid. She’s totally capable of doing the math–until she starts doubting herself, at which point she gives up with a startling passion for surrender I had no idea was even possible. But she’s such a brave person (Ha! When I told her that, she said, “Miss, duh! I’m Black.” and then laughed and wouldn’t explain) and if she just gets her feet under her, she’ll change the world for so many people.
- I have potential, too, that inspires me almost as much. But nothing scares me about my Brat or babies or 2011 corps members. When I think about what I can do and what I Could Do, this wave of probably very normal, but still rather paralyzing, nervousness and inadequacy inevitably follows. I put off making decisions about my future because thinking about it scares me–turns out the undefined dark space just ahead when you’re a student is much more palatable than the everyday reality of Do or Don’t, Today. ((Somehow, TFA was an easy decision for me–as soon as I knew what it was, it was obvious that if I could, I would. Like the way it was obvious that after high school I would go to college, but a lot easier than the ordeal of (not) deciding which college that would be. The TFA decision–and the decision to be an RA, actually–didn’t have the same frustrating shroud of trepidation.))
Look at me, with my long string of successes, my thorough education, my energy, and my confidence. What have I to be afraid of? My Brat’s reluctance I can understand. She doesn’t feel something pulling her inevitably toward success. How can I counsel someone to throw caution to the wind and GO for it when I’m defining myself with words like this?
… and why do I so often feel like a hypocrite when I try to motivate my kids? Yikes.