Yesterday I taught the lesson that my students cringe about, giggle through, and try to avoid at all costs. Yep, it was THAT chapter in Family Life, the dreaded Chapter Three aka How Babies Are Made. I’ve done the whole “let’s be mature” and “see it through a doctor’s eyes”, but where our lesson paused came suddenly and unexpectedly.
The students were great and all was well with the naming of parts and the actual science of it all when a student raised his hand and said, “My mom had a miscarriage. What is that?” I was ready to turn off my emotions and turn into robot mode, but I am who I am so I couldn’t and there it was…the waterworks flowed. Biting my lip and turning away just didn’t work.
I briefly got up from my spot in the class (dead centre, of course, all eyes in me) and turned towards my desk, but heck, it couldn’t be stopped. Tears welled up quickly and soon, I was an overflowing bucket. Leaks everywhere and no mop. One boy even stated, “I wish I had a tissue for you.” I remember saying, “Sorry, guys. Just a second…” when in reality, if they were willing, I could’ve sat there for ten minutes to let it all out. I looked up and saw compassion and I didn’t feel embarrassed. They looked worried. Some looked sad. They know me by now and know I’m an emotional person. Ironically, we’ve been studying traits of science fiction and had read a story about future teachers being robots. They all said the good thing about human teachers is that they are able to have feelings and express there. Well, I’m certainly Exhibit A.
After a minute’s pause, I was able to get back to it and finish the lesson. I briefly explained what miscarriage is (though it is in the upcoming pages in the book) and why it was hard for me to discuss (I had three experiences). We ended the lesson with a slew of questions and genuine interest in the topic of twins and genes and which parent they look like. They asked more questions at my desk. Some came up to say they were sorry about my situation (cue the tears). The student who asked the question was apologetic, but no, I’d never want anyone to feel sorry for asking questions and said so. After all, that’s how we grow, it’s how we learn. As I was cleaning the whiteboard, another boy came up and said he felt sad when I cried.
Right after everyone left, I went to my neighbour teacher to tell her what happened. She reassured me that some days, even on that day for herself, tears are necessary and justified. The students need to know that we don’t just work and live at school, we are actual human beings. We feel pain and frustration too.
A minute later, three other colleagues popped in because they heard what happened (wow, this wasn’t even the power of social media). We had a brief powwow and they all said the same thing. Emotion is nothing to be ashamed about. It was okay. My students are certainly mature enough to handle it. If anything, it gave them a real understanding about babies and loss. There is no disconnect between creating a human life and having a life grow inside you for a while. You love him or her even if the end result is not a baby in your arms. The bond you have from the moment you find out you are pregnant is indescribable. I ended the lesson with the fact that they are there meant that God had wanted it just so, it takes just the right pieces to come together. They are made from a loving union, healthy and blessed.