July 20, 2017

July 20, 2017
Mary and Dosey

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer #6: None of us has died.

Summer #6: Our nonegenarian neighbor Annabella called last night and asked something she had asked before. When I answered, she said, "I had not forgotten, but it got forgotten." Usually passive voice makes me cringe, but her awareness made me laugh.

My least favorite uses of passive voice are, "You will be missed," and "You are loved." It's like the speaker does not want to take responsiblility for missing or for loving me. At first I thought this use of the passive voice was a way to avoid an insult: "I won't miss you, but someone else probably will." Now I think this is just how some people talk, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe no one misses me or loves me, but each person just assumes someone else does. This thought leaves me feeling suddenly insecure.

Insecurity is not a good trait for teachers of teenagers. At the beginning of my final year of teaching, when my freshmen were being somewhat rude one day, one student asked me if I ever cried in front of my students. I know that sometimes more insecure teachers cry out of frustration, and I knew she was asking if I cried out of frustration, but I thought about it. "Yes," I said, "I always cry when a student dies." This student, surprised by my response, asked, "Have you ever had a student die?" And I responsed, "Oh yes. Most years, someone dies." This is hard, but it's true. At the end of first semester, when we were brainstorming all we had to celebrate, students listed progress like, "We are better writers" and "We are like brothers and sisters for each other," and one student added, somewhat hesitantly, "None of us has died." They all nodded solemnly.

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