I have had studentsâ€™ parents die while the students were in my class.
I have had students getting a divorce, when they had a child and were less than 21 years old.
This semester, for some reason, seems to have more â€œheavyâ€ students.
I have 5 Iraq war veterans, including one who seems to be working out his experience in his papers. Another is divorced and separated by an ocean from his son. One was 19 years in the service (why not 20?) as an MP and is now working with the constableâ€™s office. Did the Army let him have those earrings while he was in?
I have several, as usual, single mothers. It amazes/shocks/scares me how many 20 year olds are going to college with babies and no husbands.
I have two recovering drug addicts. One seems to be doing well; tough love got him on the road to recovery and he now owns a company. One seems to have been permanently effected by his four years of meth use; his last paper was an amazingly articulate description of his waking up to discover a friend dead of, of all things, a cough syrup overdose.
I have one student who was abused by his birth father and his adopted father. He wrote in his last paper about meeting God, being afraid because he was â€œfather,â€ and becoming a Christian.
I have one student who was listening to her sonâ€™s evening prayers and decided God didnâ€™t exist. Her life, she says, has been much better since she got rid of the church. (God does not equal church. Church certainly does not equal God.)
I have four high school students who are working at the college level in college classes. I try not to expect them to have had the same life experiences as my grown students. (My eldest is in college and had a meltdown over his inability to answer â€œmemoryâ€ questions from his English teacher. He hasnâ€™t had those memories. Heâ€™s only just turned 15.)
I have a student whose husband had a stroke. Now she is working full-time and trying to go to school to better her work position so that she can take care of him â€œlike he took care of me all those years.â€
I have two students who are financially well-to-do. Both work, which may be why theyâ€™re well off! and have husbands who are working too. (Theyâ€™re not â€œheavy.â€ I just got going on what students I have.)
I have five students who have children older than mine. (Some of them are older than I am, too, but we wonâ€™t mention that.)
I have four students who were homeschooled. (Two of these are among my high school students and two have already graduated. Three have been thrilled with their homeschooling experience and one- laughter cued here- says she was not socialized sufficiently.)
I have four students from foreign countries, three from New Orleans, and one from- of all places- Nebraska via New York.
I have a student who moved to Houston to help his recently divorced cousin care for her child.
I have a student whose father was a heroin addict and though he came to both her siblingsâ€™ high school graduation, he did not show up for hers.
I have a student who recalls that her father mercilessly teased her about her looks. She is very cute. I donâ€™t know what he was thinking about!
I have another student whose mother beat him up, his father took him away, and his father was an alcoholic. He hasnâ€™t seen his mother since he was four, even though she has custody of his two siblings. (Why? Was it because they were girls?)
â€¦You learn about things you wish you didnâ€™t know when youâ€™re an English teacher. People write out of their experiences and so you learn about harsh things. Like the girl whose parents tricked her into thinking she was getting an amniocentesis when she was really having an abortion. That was last semester, though.
Thankfully I learned early on what to warn my students against and Iâ€™ve been very clear that if they confess to murder, Iâ€™m going to turn the essay into the police as soon as I read it. (I wasnâ€™t the one who got the murder confession. But the teacher who did wondered if it were â€œprivilegedâ€ information.)