My son has mononucleosis. My son was diagnosed with mono the morning he was to move into his dorm as a first year freshman. I moved his things in, kept him home for the weekend, and returned him to campus, per his request and the college's nurse practitioner's checkup, and a week later the NP called and said my son had mono's mono and I should consider taking him out of college. I had already decided. So, a week after I moved him into the dorm, I moved him out of the dorm and back home.
Why write about this? Because I am a mom. Because I just held the straw of a vanilla milkshake for my son to sip through-that is how sick he is from mono. The headache that lasted a week is finally gone, but the God-awful sore throat has arrived with the continuing low grade fever and general all over body achiness that mono delivers. He cannot sleep comfortably at night and naps during the day. He is so weak and there is nothing I can do but create cold concoctions he can sip through a straw.
Why write about this? Because I am a librarian and a teacher. I know how kids who are sick or hungry cannot learn. I know there are kids out there who will be looking at us this new school year through tears of hurt and abuse, through eyes of exhaustion and illness and hunger, and through clouds of substance abuse and alcohol. I know we need to hold the straw for them. They may need to sip slowly, to swallow carefully, with all the will power they can muster. My hope for this year is that we baby them while we still can, no matter whether they are in first or sixth grade, or if they are a "getting ready to graduate" senior.
We are a tremendous influence on our students. I hope we spend time taking care of ALL of our students; not just the smart ones, or pretty ones; not just the athletes or brainiacs; not just the ones who conform and say "Good morning" and "Thanks". Let's take care of the needy ones; the ones who live in cars; the ones who fight illness but still show up at school because they prefer not to be at home; the ones who have lost their identity; the ones who feel they have no voice; the ones who struggle with learning, but need to know; the ones who CAN sip at knowledge.