The Jessica Fletcher of Teaching or How The Flaming Lips Saved My Status as a Role Model

I think every year I've taught, except for the first year, someone has died where I was teaching. It's usually a coworker. Once, terribly, it was one of my favorite students' mother. This year, a coworker died over the summer, and there was a memorial at school for him today.

Nobody really likes talking about death. It's especially difficult when you are supposed to be a role model. The children suddenly take everything I say very, very seriously.

In class after the memorial, I talked about how, when someone dies, it makes me so thankful for the people I love who are still alive. The usual bunch of yahoos suddenly became very contemplative and appreciative, some of them sharing journal entries about the people they cherished. One kid said,

"I love my mama, because she gave me life! and she take care of me!" I didn't know what to say, and then it came to me,

"Have you told her that? Do you realize you need to tell her that? You should all tell them! Let them know you realize that life goes fast, and it's hard to make the good things last." I said the last part very slowly. I think my eyes were big. I tried to look at everyone individually.

A quiet moment passed. Then some kid jumped up and screamed,

"She doesn't know anything! She's just quoting Flaming Lips lyrics!"

Oh, wait... no one did that. That was in my head.

Actually, the plagiarized words of the great Wayne Coyne just weaved themselves into the fabric of our lives, and the deep conversation continued.

Thank you, Flaming Lips, for giving me something wise to say.

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