Written by Jenn Fleming, AmeriCorps member proudly serving on the Lamar Advertising Company Team at Democracy Prep.
Blink and it’s mid-October. I have made it my mission to break a ten year old’s bad thumb sucking habit - sometimes this involves tissue paper and blue tape, other times it’s a maniacal thumbs up from across the room. This goes to show life isn’t always what we are expecting. There is another child - a scholar, always a scholar at my school, one of Democracy Prep’s many surprisingly moving linguistic choices - that has frequent breakdowns. Often preoccupied by the (sometimes very real) unfairness of the world, I try to give her what pep talks that I can - to be for her what I think I would want in this moment. There is never as much time as I like, but there is some progress there, at least I think she hates being at school less. This is much more, what I thought City Year would be. It goes to show that sometimes life is exactly what we are expecting.
I have cried four times. My Impact Manager worries that, for my own sake, maybe I am connecting too much. Perhaps naively, I refuse to believe this is a bad thing.
Here’s the thing: I love my kids. Every single one of them. I love them when they are following directions (most of the time). I love them when they are being funny (almost all the time). I love them when they are looking for attention in all the wrong ways (once a day per child it seems like). I love them when I forget that I love them. I remember advice that we got during City Year Basic Training: these kids are full of so much love. It is true. And honestly it’s the only thing I find that really matters. I cannot say that I always love every single thing I am asked to do every single time. There are moments that City Year challenges me, moments when the school challenges me, and yes, moments when the children challenge me. But then there are the moments when everything clicks. There is a wall in our math class where the teacher highlights a particularly meticulous - another Democracy Prep favored phrase - mathematician. When the kids line up, they see their names associated with accomplishment. I like to watch this playout at the end of every class, this joy that they have created for themselves. This, above everything, seems to me the privilege of wearing the red jacket.