A letter

Dear Students,

Thank you very much for such an interesting evening.  I must say, I learned a lot last night.

What I learned, though, were not the things you thought you were teaching me.  You see, old people are not boring because we never do anything; old people are boring because they’re bored.  Having experienced a great deal of the world, it takes a lot to get our blood rushing.

I am actually quite pleased that you have been rebellious enough to try all those things that teenagers try.  It’s part of the learning process and, yes,  through drinking and getting stoned and piercing body parts and kissing people you shouldn’t be kissing, you are learning more useful things than you will ever learn in my classroom.

(By writing essays about these things, though, you are falling into my trap.  You ended up writing, didn’t you?  You took the thoughts from your little brain, formed them into words, and then put the words onto paper in an order that made sense to me.  You introduced a topic, proved a thesis, explained your point-of-view, and concluded with information which left me thinking.)

Well done, I say.

I got my way.  Did you get yours?  No?  I’m sorry.  The problem is – though I realise there are no absolutes in this world – that I am unshockable.  If you check the dictionary, you’ll find that to shock means to strike or jar with intense surprise, horror, disgust, etc.  In order to surprise me, you would have to come up with something I have never experienced before.  To horrify or disgust me, you would have to come up with something which has absolutely nothing good about it.

Good luck with that.

You might come up with something I disagree with; you might, if you tried hard, come up with something that actually made me angry; you’re not going to shock me.  I have swabbed infected piercings, cleaned people up and put them to bed after they’ve come down from their high, buried people who got addicted to alcohol, and had my heart broken by people who didn’t actually love me; your activities will not excite me any more.

What excited me was your enthusiasm for writing about these things.  I loved the energy in the room while you were feverishly scribbling.  I loved the brightness of your eyes, the way you deliberated over which adjectives would properly describe the way you felt, and the proud looks on your faces when you handed me the paper, thinking you were giving me something entirely new.  What I learned about last night was you.

No, I won’t share with you the things I find exciting and rebellious.  You’ll figure those things out for yourself when you’re my age.

love,

Sheila

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