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A Letter to My Kids

May 13, 2013

This letter is for the students of the club I advise, some of whom graduated this weekend and are moving out into the world.  But it’s also for all of the the young men and women who I have had the privilege of knowing over the years, as supervisor, teacher, or simply friend, who I never got to say this to.

First, I want to apologize for calling you my kids.  I will fiercely defend your right to be treated like the adult you are, and woe be unto the person who does otherwise.  But it’s hard to explain to other people what you are to me, and so I default to “kids.”  You are not my students, because you often teach me as much as I teach you.  You are not my peers, because I hold a certain authority over you.  And while I have grown close to many of you over the years, it is hard to call you my friends until that authority ends.  So to all those who don’t understand the bonds which this group forges between its members, you are my kids.

Next, I want to thank you for letting me be a part of your lives.  I wanted so badly to teach high school when I first came to college.  In a way, you have taken the place of those students.  I wanted to touch minds, change lives, and challenge my students to think critically about the world around them.  I get to do all of that and more with you.  I get to sit down, have lunch, and talk with you about everything from current politics to social justice to the latest news of the geek world.  I get to dress up with you, work beside you, and make jokes with you.  I get to share my dreams with you and get to listen to your dreams in return.  I get to be there when you fall in love, when your heart breaks, and when you fall in love again.  Best of all, I get to see your smile when you ask that special someone to be yours in marriage.  I get to listen when you need someone to talk to, and I get to help guide you when you need more than just someone to listen.  I get to laugh with you, cry with you, and be amazed by you.  All of this without having to grade a single paper (though I’ve polished up my share of resumes).

It is a bittersweet time for me.  I know that each and every one of you will do amazing things with your life, because you redefine amazing to be whatever you want it to be.  I know that you can’t do those things unless you go out into the world and find your way on your own.  But I am so sad to see you go.  I have known many of you since your senior class t-shirts were still unfaded and unfrayed.  In the four or five or six years since then, I have grown to care for each and every one of you.  I may not have always agreed with your choices, or you politics, or your opinions, but I still care for you.  And I will miss you.

Know that I am proud of you.  Know that no matter what happens from here, I will always be proud of you.  You may slip.  You may fall on hard times.  You may feel lost in the world outside of this tiny town.  You may long for the days when you sat at a table of your fellow geeks and had nothing more to worry about than upcoming midterms.  Know that those people are as much your family as any other.  Those that were there with you, those that came before you, and those that will come after.  And me.  Because while I may let you go for now, know that you will always have a place in my heart.

Gig’em.

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