Image from this morning that I can’t shake – one of my students, eighteen years old, sat and watched one of her classmates present to the class as she leaned back in her chair and sucked her thumb.
An eighteen year old sucking her thumb is striking enough. That coupled with the facts that she has a three-year old son [meaning she was a fifteen year old mother], her son’s father was shot and killed in a street argument shortly after the baby was born, and her current boyfriend proposed last week [she said “Maybe,” not sure if she wants to be tied down], my brain kept attempting to process the juxtaposition of childhood and adulthood.
I felt pride for her, as she wakes up at 6AM to travel south to take her son to daycare and then back north to get to school by 7:50, and as she has serious dreams and goals, rooted in wanting to open her own hair salon. I felt sad for her, thinking of the sacrifices she’s made and will have to make. She’s climbed more adulthood rungs in her short life than I have in my thirty-one years. I felt young and old, selfish and wise, deserving and lucky.