There’s a scene from “Love, Actually” that’s at the center of my thoughts today—here’s a transcript:
Daniel: Tell her that you love her.
Sam: No way! Anyway, they fly tonight.
Daniel: Even better! Sam, you’ve got nothin’ to lose, and you’ll always regret it if you don’t! I never told your mom enough. I should have told her everyday because she was perfect everyday. You’ve seen the films, kiddo–it ain’t over ’til it’s over!
Sam: Okay, Dad. Let’s do it! Let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love.
Do you ever feel that kick that love hits you with? I do. I get the shit kicked out of me by love all the time.
My students were sharing their strengths and challenges last week during a morning meeting. Then it was my turn, so I told them how I wanted them to never forget their strengths as they move into middle school.
Middle school is a mad rush of hormones through your body as other people’s ideas of who you should be try to dominate your own ideas. Middle school is when the wheels fall off of so many children. So through my tears I explained, “I’ve shared with you all your strengths—you all have so many–don’t ever forget them.” I was crying as I said it, and I’m crying right now as I remember that moment.
I notice that I cry often in front my students. We were reading about a segregated baseball league in the early 20th century, and connecting it to their social studies lesson about Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. I began boohooing as I as recounted all the tragedies and challenges African Americans faced through the Civil Rights movement—including the death of Emmitt Till.
Caring deeply about children means getting overwhelmed by love and, sometimes, getting the shit kicked out of you. Loving and caring means connecting, listening, and being present with your students—looking at each student as the bundle of joy and messiness they were created to be.
In the movie above, Sam has just lost his mother and Daniel has lost his wife. They know what it means to love another person and become overwhelmed with the grief associated with that love. But Sam takes the risk that love requires. He races to the airport to say goodbye to the love of his 12 year old life. He shows us why love is the source of all our strength, and why love matters–to you, to your students, to everyone. Love is the center of a teacher’s life.