Last week I spent an HOUR AND A HALF on the phone with Student T; he had yet to start his World History class and we were 13 weeks into second semester. Infuriated by the zeros in his grade book and lack of response to my millions of emails and voice messages, I picked up the phone and called him. He answered. I asked him why he had not stated class and he told me he was working or waiting for his parents to make a decision about school in this lazy “I dont give a crap” voice. I was pissed…I mean pissed. I had reached my breaking point with this kid and he was going to know it. I snapped…I was so tired of hearing excuses from students and parents. Looking back I was also tired of my own excuses and waiting and I think this kid got some of that too. I basically told him in the most mature and G-rated way to get off his lazy ass and do something. We both knew that online school was not working and that was OK. It was my job- as the adult and teacher- to help him find something that DID work for him. He was shocked. He told me that I was the ONLY teacher who had reached out to him to help him figure things out. (Sidebar- TEACHERS! What the hell are you doing in your classrooms when you see a kid struggling? IS NO ONE HAVING CONVERSATIONS WITH KIDS ANYMORE? I know our time is 99% taken up with CRAP but really? ) I shared with him how public school works…that I was PAYING for him to sit around and do nothing and I was tired of doing that. I also told him that at 17 years old his time was up…there was no more waiting for mommy and daddy to figure this one out…in one year he could sign up for a tour of the Middle East…he could vote…he was an adult. If he wanted to get his GED that was a great option but as soon as he did that he was off the public money tit and was on his own financially. And would a GED help or hinder him in his career advancement? We spent a long time talking about his options…the pros and cons of these choices…and how if he wanted to be a writer, college was looking to be his best option. I told him how awesome college would be…that you are finally surrounded by your people…people who share the same desires and wants as you do. People who are smarter than you but want to help you get to where you want to go. A place where no one cares if you skip class because you have already paid your $20,000 dollars for that year and it makes no difference to them if you are there or not. I told him that it was going to be really hard at first and that he had to start saying NO to anything that would not help him reach his goal of getting to college. Then he said something amazing…something that made ME stop in my tracks and reflect. He said “It sounds like the hardest road is the easiest road.” Holy SHIT kid I want to murder…you are totally correct. You nailed it. Your 17 year old brain and reasoning came up with something I have never though of. Sure I have had those thoughts but never the words in that order. YES, the hardest road IS the easiest road. At first it appears daunting and scary and just overwhelming. You really don’t think that you can do it. It’s REALLY hard to say NO to all of the things and people distracting you from your goal. But the more you say no the easier it gets…the longer you trudge through the beginning the easier and lighter it begins to feel. When you arrive at your goal and you are on top of the world, you DO look around and think…”Man! That was not hard…why did I think it would be?” I KNOW this because I HAVE done this many times. I graduated from college after a rough two first years…I went back and got my Teaching Certificate, leaving my friends behind to pursue more education. I got my Masters at night while teaching full time, working on the side as a fill-in online teacher, AND planning my wedding. Holy shit kid…you are right! The hardest road is the easiest road. It IS the SHORTEST distance from we are now to where we want to be. Amazing. And to think I was going to murder him…Now I just have to take my own advice. That is NOT easy to do. But really…its not my advice…it was his that he gave to me. Thank you universe…and thank you lazy student who was just as lost as me.
The Easy Road