Friday afternoon I opened my classroom to my incoming students and their parents. I met 16 of my new families and am touched by the fact that they took time out of their day to stop in.
A few minutes into the meet and greet one of my little girls reached in her pocket and pulled out a kitty cat face made of beads. She said “I made it for you. Its mouth is crooked.” I smiled and replied “I like it better that way.”
And it’s true, I do like it better that way. The lopsided grin gives this cat a mischievous look, like it just swallowed a bird. (And you know I like anything that eats birds!) I put a magnet on the back of the kitty face and stuck it on my filing cabinet where the girl is sure to notice it Monday morning.
I couldn’t get this little cat face out of my mind all weekend. I’m not really a cat person, so it took me awhile to figure out why this plastic kitty was stuck in my head. Then it hit me-it’s not perfect. The imperfection is what makes it interesting, quirky even. The juxtaposition of the otherwise cheery cat with a big smirk amuses me.
The same is true for my students. The little things that make them unique are the things I treasure the most. The kid who accidentally cut my hair, the kid who fell out of his chair more times than either of us could count, even the kid who shouted out curse words when he was excited-all of them hold a place in my heart because they weren’t perfect. They were delightfully unique.
Tomorrow, with a stomach of butterflies, I’ll begin a new year of teaching. A new year of learning from my students. A new year of learning about them, finding out what it is that makes them inimitable. Every now and then I’ll catch a glimpse of my precious crooked-mouthed kitty and I’ll smirk right back, happy with the knowledge that imperfection is a wonderful thing.