Out the Door

Summer is nearly here, and already my teen students are leaving. Last week I said good-bye to two of them. One is heading for London for a month’s visit and then medical school. The other has a ticket to Rhodes to work at a hotel for the summer. Both model students, I am so proud of them. I tried to pour as much English into them as possible in the few months we had together, and of course I wonder if I I gave them enough.

Two other students are leaving next week for an extensive trip through Europe, and their functional language in each country will be English. There’s so much they need to know yet. At the hotels, will they be able to say, “The hairdryer/toilet/window doesn’t work. The towels are wet/dirty.”? Actually, I think Europeans are generally much better at communicating in a second language than most Americans, so they’ll be ok.

I am not their mom, only their English teacher and friend. But the good-byes make me feel melancholy and make me want to pour all good wishes into them. I remember the lines from Evangeline Paterson that my mom has read to me and written on cards when I left for extended times. The lines made me cry, and they let me feel that I live under a blessing:

On this doorstep I stand year after year
and watch your leaving and think:
May you not skin your knees.
May you not catch your fingers in car doors.
May your heart not break.
May tide and weather wait for your coming
and may you grow strong
to break all webs of my weaving.

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