On Thursday, I went on a coffee date with a new dude. (For the record, meh. He was a little too forward for my comfort.)
But this isn't particularly newsworthy. What I'm writing about tonight is a funny little thing that happened while we sipped our drinks at Starbucks. I mentioned taking "my kids" to Disneyland last March, and he asked me, "How old are they?"
I was confused for a moment, thinking, "Dude, I mentioned I teach high school." But then it dawned on me.
"Oh! I don't have kids. I meant my students. I took my students to Anaheim for a choir festival."
We both laughed, but it struck me: how often do I refer to my students as "my kids" without even thinking about it? All the time. When asked about my job, it's not uncommon at all for me to gush about how great "my kids" are (even on the rough days), or how much I love "my kids."
I don't even think about it.
In seventh grade, I can recall my science teacher telling us that she and her husband did not have children. She was, even then, beyond child-bearing years. Someone asked if she wished she did. She smiled at us. "No. All of my students are my children."
Sometimes I feel that way. I'm 36 and I have no real inclination to have a baby at this point, and if I do reach that phase at some point, I'm pretty sure I'd stick to one (or adopt!). Babies are a lot of work. So is my job...and I'd want both.
For now, I'm perfectly content to have "my kids" be the daytime kind--the ones I teach music to, but also laugh with, occasionally holler at, and love for all the quirks and flaws and marvelous things they bring to my classroom. Some of them have been with me for three semesters now, and I've come to know them as no other teacher at the Large Suburban High School gets to, only having them one semester. It's not always easy to love them, but love them I do. Not like a mother; I'm not their mom, and my affection for them doesn't extend quite so far as a mother's would. Besides, these kids move on, away from me, to be replaced by new ones. It's the natural cycle of teaching. But I certainly care about them, and their futures, and I will fiercely protect them while they are in my care.
Why shouldn't I? They're my kids.