My Leap List

Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Love the Broken Ones

     How can you love them?  They are broken, used, discarded, abused, and lost.  It's so much easier to love the ones that are happy, smart, kind, talented, and mature.  How can I love them?  How could I not?  I love the broken ones.
     I was a broken one.  The shy girl who never talked.  The one who cut herself and picked at scabs.  The head banger.  Hiding in silence and downcast eyes, blending in and not standing out; avoiding the danger of being noticed.  The broken one who nearly died.  The perfect girl.  The one everyone loved but no one knew.
     I love a broken man.  Depression is a constant companion, but other mental illnesses often tag along.  Lost and lonely no matter how much love I give. If there was any way to wish or pray or or love or think your way out of the darkness, he would already be home.
     I love a broken boy who fears the deaths of everyone he loves.  Ghosts clamor for his attention and death meets him when he is alone.  A shy boy who lives in books and video games where he can conquer death every time.
     I love a broken girl who lives every day in excruciating pain.  Struggling to just be a teenager when she can barely climb up the stairs.  Battling her own mental illness.  An empathy so strong she literally feels the pain of the people she loves.
     I love the broken ones.  All of them.  I live their lives every day.
     All week people have asked me the same questions with different words.  "How can you love the broken ones?"  It's easy.  They've never been loved enough.  If no one ever loves you unconditionally, you never learn to love.  There are already enough people in the world unable to love.  They need my love the most.
     "Why do you keep trying when it's obvious they don't care?"  When you are broken, years of lies and broken promises line your heart.  Pain masked by indifference.  They lash out and push you away, lie, steal, anything to prove you are just like everyone else who gave up and walked away.  They can't believe you love them when no one else does.  The hardest, non-caring kids are the ones who want to be loved the most.  Keep loving them when they are most unlovable and a miracle occurs.  They become the people you knew they would be.
     "Why do you keep trying when it won't make a difference?"  It takes years to get over being broken and some of us never do.  Emotional scars heal on their own time frame.  I would have been the broken one you gave up on.  My love may not make a noticeable difference today or tomorrow or by June 1st, but love makes a difference.  I don't have to be there when it happens.  It is enough to know that their lives will be better because they were loved for the 180 days we shared.  180 more days than they would have had without love.  That is enough for me.
     "Why bother when no one notices what you are doing?"  I am glad no one notices.  I don't like the attention.  I don't care who gets credit as long as my kids are taken care of.  For me, it is not about the fame or the accolades or the money.  I was a broken child and a teacher's love saved me from myself.  I honor her by paying it forward.
      I've been disappointed, angered, hurt, and frustrated, especially at the beginning of each year.  Love is hard.  Love is messy.  Love is scary.  No one has more power over you than the ones you love.  But, I have laughed and sung and danced and rejoiced in their love.  
     "How can you leave the classroom and become an administrator?  It is tragic to lose a good teacher."  I will always be me, wherever I go.  That won't change.  Now I can teach others how to love the broken ones and help so many more people who need me.  It might be worth not giving up on the broken ones like me.  We need the most love when we are most unlovable.
     "The Broken Ones" by Dia Frampton is my teaching theme song.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

None of Us are Free

     I look at the world my children live in and cry for who we are.  All my life I heard we children were special; we were chosen to live in the end of days.  I'm grown up now, with children of my own, and it turns out we weren't so special.  We were just like the ones who went before.  We hide behind sound bites and our religions and our conservative views.  Too full of hate and anger and prejudice to listen to anyone else, let alone understand.  The rest of us hide in fear awaiting the winner.  If we are lucky enough to not be hated, we turn a blind eye and hope we won't be next.  Hitler would be proud.
     My students are beautiful; all colors and hues.  They don't believe me when I tell them; no one else sees them that way.   I weep for the boys with the beautiful dark skin who ask me why we never learn from the past and why black hoodies are so bad.  I cry with the beautiful girl of Hispanic descent, tears rolling down her cheeks, asking me if it's okay her teacher just called her a dumb Mexican..  I hug the shy girl embarrassed to admit that her dance recital is "only" native Mexican dances.  None of them have faced physical death yet, but they die a million small deaths every day.  What a hopeless way to see fourteen.
     My children and I have white skin.  We don't face the situations my students face every day, but we fight for  all of us.  For as Ray Charles says, "If one of us is chained, none of us are free."

Sunday, March 11, 2012


See that woman over there?
She is perfect.  
Nothing ever fazes her.
It must be so nice to be her.
Everything comes so easy for her.

I hear them whispering about me.
They can't see behind the mask
to see the purple circle bruises
and the racing heart bursting out.

43 years in the making?
The craftsmanship is exquisite.
I must get one of my own.

I would offer you this one
but I can't pry it loose anymore.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

It Just Sucks Sometimes

It sucks to miss a boy who should have been 16 today
to see his face smile back at me through my tears and
wonder what should have been and how to let him go.

It sucks to love a boy of my own, fighting all his demons,
standing at the gates of Hell to bring him back from death,
trying to lead him through the woods to a moment of sun.

It sucks to be helpless to do more than scream silently 
praying someone, anyone, will pick up on my frequency
and get through my defenses and take care of me today.

It sucks to see the sins of the parents on my childrens' heads,
teaching them love will just have to be enough for all of us,
wishing they got to see the beauty before they lived life raw.

It sucks to be Atlas when everyone goes home for the night,
and it sucks to be everything and nothing at the same time,
to be the lucky one and unable to just be human for a day.