Snippets from a boarding school dean's wife...

These are the last days of school. This is the time when many of us, who have lived along with these kids-disciplining, commending, encouraging, advising, and watching-begin to reflect on the actual growth that has occurred in these kids. One example: the freshmen boys. Many of these guys come at age 13 from various family backgrounds and situations. They come as babies, basically. They’ve never done their own laundry, they lose their homework, backpacks, room keys, everything imaginable. But they have grown the most. Most of these freshmen guys are some of the sweetest and most considerate in the dorm. Yes, they’re still boys and are more wild than a barrel full of monkeys, but they are so LOVABLE! Sometimes one or two will come to my door and ask for a snack and I cave every time and beg them not to tell any of the other guys in the dorm. In the beginning of the year, I called the worst one, “Baby V”, because he was the most immature of all. Now, I can’t call him that anymore because he’s grown out of that stage. He's growing up, learning how to share and do his laundry. He sat down with me and opened up his heart about some things that he's been going through this year in his personal and home life and it just made me love this kid even more. I can't wait to see what's in store for him and his other freshmen, now sophomores.

This morning someone left a prank on our door. I’m not going to say what it is, but investigation is underway. It was nasty; a cry for attention. None of the guys will tell us who it was, but we know who knows. This part of living in the dorm is un-amusing and makes me want to really dig, find the perpetrator, and punish them. But really, it doesn’t matter. Because his friends don’t think he’s cool, and neither do I. And he’ll have to live with himself. Another student cleaned it up anyway. He’s the hero in this story. When we found out it was him, we wanted to hug and celebrate him, but we cooked him meat instead.

Friday night was the last full-school vespers and focused on wrapping up relationships through the flower ceremony. After a short talk, the students were given three choices of flowers. Red means, I love you. White, I’m sorry or I forgive you. And multicolor means, You inspire me. I remember doing the flower vespers when I was in high school and how emotional it was for me. It was all about clearing the air with ex-boyfriends, or sharing tears while untangling misunderstandings in friendships.

I loved walking through the crowd slowly, catching phrases from various conversations. “I just wanted to tell you that…” “I’m so sorry for not being there for you….” “It was me who spread that bad rumor about you….” Don’t worry, I didn’t listen in on the whole thing. I gave flowers to students and got some flowers too. Both Aaron and I got the white flowers from kids who had felt bad for things that we’d long forgotten about.

I took my freshmen/sophomore girls to town yesterday for a year-end party. We had a real-life photo shoot then got ice cream. These girls have really been working hard the last month or so, even putting up with my genius idea of starting “Study Hall Bootcamp” where we study hard and silently for 20 minutes, then do 2 minutes if intense cardio exercise. I read somewhere that taking lots of breaks mixed with physical activity helps the information seep into the brain better, or something like that, so we tried it. I have no way to tell if it worked or not but the girls were a lot more focused while they studied.

During the shoot, all the girls hammed it up. We had so much fun, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss all of them over the summer. I hope so badly that they find hope and meaning in life, more than just makeup and boys. But how different was I when I was their age?

For graduation weekend, there was a handful of guys whose parents couldn't come for various reasons; mostly international students. On Saturday, the school puts on a big parent appreciation program for the parents who have come for the event, and these guys were given special permission to skip it. So they came to our house and cooked. It was all they wanted to do. These guys, from Korea, Hong Kong, and China, cooked tons of chicken, beef, and even a special tofu number for me. After stuffing our faces, we all sat around and the guys shared about their experience in the States, and we laughed at all the cultural differences between all of our respective countries. We spoke of China power, eating dog (more common in Korea than China, it turns out), and where these guys are going from here. That afternoon, we became a family.

Now the kids are gone. Graduated, home for the summer, releasing us of all of our expectations of them. The campus is still, bright, beautiful. We try to eat outside as much as we can. Aaron and I are re-discovering the art of reading. We’re racing go-carts, walking the dog, shampooing our carpets, cleaning the house and messing it up again. Summer time never felt so good!


Rachel Keele said...

i want some students to cook me food! glad to hear you and aaron had a good first year, or at least that's the way it sounds :)

Admin said...

Inspiring message! A friend of mine went to a boarding school here in SoCal. He went there because his parents wanted him to go to high school in the US. To read more about this see here!

Post a Comment