Freedom

I woke up this morning in a comfy bed next to the husband I love. My two daughters live with us in a safe neighborhood three blocks from the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. I have a great family that loves me. Of course there are some characters, but since I’m a writer, this is a good thing. I am free to worship as I please, and I can criticize my government as much as I desire without worrying about fines or jail. Some people think I’m “old” but I still have plans to get my PhD in English/Creative writing. This is notable because in many countries a female would not have this opportunity.

I love my job. Not so much teaching online, but I love teaching middle school students. They will tell you what they think, and class discussion is a great teaching tool. I love to learn new things, and they are often great teachers. Some of them are hilarious. Some of them live in conditions that are not for children. It breaks my heart that some of them are taught from infancy that they have no chance to prosper here. Where else could they go to prosper?

One year I had two students in the same class. “Ben” was the child of a police officer, and “Al” was the child of a prisoner in another state. Al’s father had been jumped by other inmates in prison and beaten so badly that he was unlikely to live. Ben’s mother had a terminal illness, so they both came to class grieving that semester. When I taught the Bill of Rights, we had some tense moments during class discussions of what those rights meant. Al railed against all police, and many of his classmates agreed with him. Ben tried hard not to respond at first. Finally, he yelled out, “Name one time in this town. This year. Last year. Name one.” Al couldn’t. I encouraged my students to look up the actual numbers and get back to me. None did, but they got the point. Perception isn’t always reality. Al’s dad eventually died from the beating and this huge, talented football player cried on my shoulder like a young child.

Tragedy is a great teacher, too. Covid-19 made me appreciate my students IN PERSON so much more. Living in a safe town where our youth of every color can hang out together at the beach and not get into mischief (or worse) is wonderful. When I write my books, I get to make the world as I want it to be. But my world is pretty great, and I pray our next generation gets the chance for a great life, too.

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