Closing out another school year, I find myself doing the accounting: One hundred eighty days of instruction, plus a few extra teacher work days, which always makes me laugh since the implication there is that those one hundred eighty days aren't "teacher work days," but that's the math. The countdown continues, especially for those fifth graders who are eagerly anticipating their release from our institutional learning facility.
After all these years, summer just feels like that little ridge in the vinyl between songs on an old LP. I'll be going back soon enough, and this little pause just gives me time to reflect. Like whatever happened to Karen. She was in my fourth grade class a long time ago. I was able to figure out just how long ago recently when her younger brother, who is about to ascend to the lofty height of third grade, told me that Karen had just turned eighteen. Later that day, I heard from another former student that Karen was pregnant.
This was not shocking news. I have lived in this neighborhood long enough, on this planet long enough, not to be bowled over by the notion of teenage pregnancy. It's on MTV, after all. What stirred my concern was the fact that this was not Karen's first pregnancy. She was just a few months away from having her second child. The first one was already a couple of years old. It is quite likely that that first one, a boy, will show up in our Kindergarten list before too much longer. This cycle is not unknown in this or any other world, but since I taught Karen in fourth grade and remember her dreams of becoming a veterinarian and moving to Stockton, I felt more than a little twinge.
Maybe Karen's life has taken this turn now, only to correct itself to the Stockton Veterinarian course in her late twenties, after her kids have found their own way and become successes in their own. Time has a way of leveling everything, but I hope it doesn't keep Karen from reaching great heights.