I ran into a former student in the hallway today. She was the kind of student who made me want to tear my hear out in big clumps. She didn't have basic skills, but she had a strong desire to do well, rivaled only by her desire to have a good time. The two desires didn't coexist well, and she wound up failing my class with some miserable percent I try not to remember. Along the way, there were tears and calls home to her mother and screaming fits at other students. In short, she was the kind of student I loved, but also the kind of student I sometimes wanted to be absent so that the class would get a day-long vacation from her drama. When she was absent (or suspended) the class always ran much more smoothly. It also had much less "personality", as Youngster calls it.
Anyway, now that she's not my student, but just a kid in the hallway, it's all love between us. She asks me where I teach, because she wants to visit my class. She always greets me by name, loudly, and with great affection, even when she's standing in the middle of her crowd of cool kids. And I see her personality as the wonderful asset it is, rather than the reason I can't get my class to shut up after lunch.
Today when she saw me, she yelled my name across an empty hallway to stop me, and then said, "I barely recognized you."
"Yeah," I said, shrugging, "'cause I'm getting old."
"No," she said, seriously. "You look younger and happier. What happened to you over the summer? Did you get married? Did you get a boyfriend?"
I just laughed. I'm not a hugger, but some kids make me wish I were. And the truth is, it's not a husband or a boyfriend that makes me look younger: I just finally bought some pants that fit.