We all have doubts, those three-in-the-morning pangs that leave us wondering if we are doing the right thing with our lives. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Am I wasting my time? Is there something better?
I am not immune. I love my job, most of the time. Since stepping into management, my time in the classroom, those special joys and frustrations, has given way to budgets, battles, and politics. Save face, lose face, conspiratorial whispers, hard decisions, long hours, and dirty deeds done dirt cheap. Tangled in that web, it’s easy to forget why I’m here.
My students, the 500 primary school 学生 in my charge, celebrated Christmas on December 24. There was a party, with a skit performed by their international teachers, carols, a singing contest, and of course, gifts. I conceived of the concept, although a team carried it to term, and assisted with the delivery. Sometimes it takes a village to “birth a baby.”
I question my life, my career. Is there anyone that doesn’t? But not on Christmas Eve.
The last class of day: Grade 1 students left the large performance room after singing, dancing, and celebrating a holiday they know little about. They queued before Santa (a 23-year-old, athletic American). He handed them a giant red stocking containing a pencil, a lollipop, and a class photo (most thought the stocking was a hat). I handed the gifts to Santa as he wished each student well.
The little girl looked the same as her classmates: An energetic three feet topped with dark hair and eyes, body enclosed in a blue-and-white school uniform. Her excitement was evident as she neared the front of the line. Santa needed a moment to prepare the little girl’s gift. The stockings were stuck together and took a minute to separate.
She watched, eyes open wide, and danced from foot to foot with anticipation. The longer he took the higher her steps became. Her enthusiasm was palpable. Santa, finally, handed her the folded stocking. Her face lit up in a supernova smile.
She was happy, that youthful innocent Christmas happiness from the days when Santa is real and the world is still a mystery. She rejoined her friends, laughing.
I have doubts from time to time. Christmas Eve reconfirmed that I am in the right line of work. My concept, my plan, carried out by a team of amazing people, made one little girl utterly happy.
That’s worth the headaches and sleepless nights.