Probably one of the most valuable things I've ever learned came from the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Sometimes I am blown away by how wise my dad is. Honestly I don't know how it happened but man alive I am grateful for his wisdom. Anyway, back when I was a very very bratty 17 year old girl who thought the world revolved around me, my dad begged and begged for me to read this book. I think he tried everything... bribe me, punish me.... and as far as I can recall it didn't work. I didn't read it.
Until much later.
One of the best lessons to be learned in the book is about names. Dale says, "A name, to that person, is the sweetest word in that language." He goes on to talk about how everyone is terrible at names. It isn't easy to remember names. But each and every year when I get my list of 283 students I remember the wisdom of that book and I do everything in my power to start learning my students names as quickly as possible. You would not believe how much a 14 year old will light up when I say hi to the student by name in the hall. Something so simple can bring me so far.
It's crazy how something so simple is so significant. How much it bothers us when someone miss spells our name or can't pronounce it. If I saw Kristen Parsons one more time......
I thought I knew how important names were. I thought I really grasped it. Until my name changed.
I've dreamed my whole life about the day my name would finally change. I was the pathetic girl that would practice writing my name with every last name I could think of. (But if you know me at all, you know that's not saying much.... or if you ever had to sit by me through anything with a pen in my hand you know I write my name more than anyone you'll ever meet.)
I can't believe how difficult it has been this year to not be Miss Parson. Sure it's only been 3 weeks and hopefully it'll change. But I have worked so hard to create my identity. I have become so proud of who Miss Parson is in the town I teach. And as silly as it sounds, it is so hard to watch Miss Parson just fade away. It's almost like part of me has died and will never return.
As I have stated before it makes me feel so good when old students come back and visit. And yesterday was no exception. It almost brought tears to my eyes yesterday when Jake, my funniest student 4 years ago, opened the door and yelled, "MISSS PARSON!!!!!!" I don't know why it affected me so much. Just hearing him say my name with such love and excitement. It's hard not hearing that anymore. It's hard having to start over, create a new identity. It's hard having my students stumble over my name every time they try and get my attention. It's hard to remember I am the same person, the same teacher, the same passionate crazy lady that wants so badly for my students to care about the world.
I'm so proud to be a Braithwaite. I'm proud of the heritage I know it has. I love that my students no longer have to feel sorry for me when they find out I'm 30 years old. I love that I am attached to Jason. Every time the secretary calls me over the intercom and says, "Mrs. Braithwaite, we need so and so in the office." I get all warm and fuzy inside. But it's my teaching identity that is hard to give up. And who knew that for me, so much of that was in a name.