With The Elegance Of An Emerging Butterfly

As a teacher, we all have those students that remind us of different aspects of ourselves. The student we see ourselves as now. The student we see as our ‘worse’ selves. The student we want to be.

I just didn’t know that you still think about them, even after 5 years…

There is this student. Koh.
[Name changed]

I can feel her pain.
And I have felt it from the moment she half-heartedly answered back.
Defences mounted, mostly ready for battle.
On the first day, of our year together.

I have thought about her so much.  Wondered about her. Worried about her.

She has just re-entered my orbit.
After almost 5 years.
At a completely different school.
In a totally different suburb,
in a vastly different town.

I spoke to her this morning.

I had been thinking about her moments earlier.

She had been sending smoke signals via her friends, who had told her that I was their teacher. Her sister brought in a photo of me and Koh to show me.

I thought something was odd about the car, but as soon as the door opened I knew it would be her sister. Even though it was too far for me to see. Her mum drove straight to me.

I think I’m wearing the same glasses.

I can’t do anything for her.

I can’t take away the pain and anguish, and the incredible journey til emergence.

And a bigger part of me is reminding me that the butterfly strengthens it’s wings as it breaks out of it’s cocoon. I can’t help her. That’s the point. She needs to do this on her own. Like I did.

And I want to tell her that it’s just a game. And that it gets easier. And to be so bloody careful. All in the same breath. And that none of this matters because it’s all nothing. The grades. The behaviour problems on her reports. The grades on her report. The expectations of how she’ll fit in, and where she’ll go. It’s nothing.

I can’t write to her.

I can’t pass on a message.

So what? Family catchup?
Where do my duties lie?
Professionally? Personally?

I just want to grab her and stare into her eyes and tell her it’s nothing, and it’s everything, and it’s all okay.

Whilst her mother berates her and shames her.
Maybe she’ll just live up to these expectations for the sake of it.
Give her mother her money’s worth.
Sometimes expectation clouds your visibility.

And how did it all happen?
How was I walking out of my car at that exact time, on that exact day?
Why did I take a couple of extra moments in my car?
What if I hadn’t have jumped back into bed that morning?
Why were they running late that day?
Why had their mother driven them, rather than let them be late?
Does that mean something?

Are we sure that her wings are strong enough to break through?


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