I'm a middle school counselor. I work with 11, 12, 13, 14 and sometimes 15 year olds. Let me tell you, you have got to love these beasts or you will go crazy. Middle school students are evidence that God has a warped sense of humor. They can be innocent and tumultuous all in the same moment. They can be scared to death, insecure, lacking in any kind of confidence and in the next moment, exhibit the most incredible act of courage (and NEVER even recognize it as such). They come in all shapes and sizes and maturity levels. The range of issues is vast---from tears over not being able to open their locker in time for the bell, to "please let me drop Band," to getting in a fight, to being shot and killed because he was in the opposing gang. My heart swells with joy one moment and breaks in the next.
We started back to school this week. It's been a crazy, hectic, "I-can't-catch-up-or-breathe" kind of week for me. But, I love it. I love seeing my kids return after summer break. I love seeing how they've grown or matured after just twelve weeks. I love to see the ones who have grown taller and have yet to grow into their bodies. I love the ones who have transformed from wallflowers into budding beauties. I love it when they get just as excited to see me as I am to see them. (Mind you, there are plenty who could care less that I've returned). I love the gang-banger who works VERY hard to be the toughest man on the planet look at me sideways with a sheepish grin because he knows I see him and he knows I'm glad about it. I love the ones who call me over to their table at lunch just because they need to know they are important enough to get the attention. I love the ones who have yet to say one word to me. I love the ones I have yet to truly know after three years because there are so many others who demand my time and I wonder how I can touch them.
I love the ones who work so hard to be perfect, do everything available, yet I want to ask, "When do you take time to be a child?" I love the ones who are in a hurry to grow up. Sometimes, I think I love many of them more than their parents do. That breaks my heart. I love the ones whose clothes come from the latest, most popular store and wouldn't be caught dead in anything from Walmart. I love the ones who can't afford to shop at Walmart. I love the ones who will fight at the drop of a hat and the ones who would never think to fight.
I love them all. I like them a heck of a lot, too.