Sometimes former students and I maintain friendships long after their days in my classroom have ended. These students and I tend to share similar personalities and interests, and as they get older, it’s easy to understand why they continue to visit me in my classroom long after they have left elementary school.
For a few former students, the teacher-student relationship has slowly developed into a genuine friendship. As I have become close with their parents (and now call some of them my closest of friends), and as they have headed off to college and bigger and better things, I have begun to view these young people as friends, even if they continue to call me Mr. Dicks.
One of my former students, now in college, is my daughter’s primary babysitter and an all-around friend of our family. On Saturday, while I was working, she and my wife spent the afternoon together, playing with Clara.
Two other students (a brother and sister combination) are our primary dog sitter, and still another is our backup dog sitter. We have invited former students and their families to our home for Christmas and Thanksgiving and Clara’s first birthday, and we have been invited to their homes for similar reasons. I count myself lucky to have these young people in my life.
Yesterday two such former students, now all grown up and attending college, came to visit me at the end of the school day. We chatted for about fifteen minutes before I headed off to a meeting, but in that time, it became apparent why these students and I have become such good friends.
The first girl’s hair is quite long. In the midst of our conversation, I asked if she planned on cutting it soon and perhaps give the hair to an organization like Locks for Love. She replied, “Of course not. I’m saving it for when I get cancer. In that case, my wig will match my natural hair color.”
While a fellow teacher was slightly horrified at the remark, I found it quite clever.
We then began chatting about cellphones, and somehow this led to a discussion on how radar detectors once emitted so much radiation that police officers in the 1970’’s were contracting cancer at alarming rates. “It’s the same with cellphones,” the other girl added. “So keep your cellphone out of your pocket or you’ll get testicular cancer.”
Having the former student mention my testicles was odd enough, but as she did, she pointed to my groin as well.
While I found the moment refreshingly innocent and amusing and a clear indication of the friendship I share with these girls, teachers never want students, all grown up or otherwise, pointing to their testicles.