Thursday, February 13, 2014

She Loves Me Not

Wow...
8th Grade me
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen to the podcast

For some reason, my self deprecating stories from the teenage years seem to be popular.  I don't write them to complain or seek pity, but instead to let young people struggling today know that they're not alone and to let adults know we were all in that same awkward and agonizing boat.  There's also a feel good part at the end, wait for it...

Today's tale is about Valentine's Day and  middle school.  What a dreadful combination.  In sixth grade I got glasses, and admittedly, they didn't do me any favors.  Along with the large hunk of plastic and metal I wore in my mouth to straighten my teeth before I could even get braces, I wasn't on anyone's Valentine's Day list.  I still remember 30 years later a girl told me, "your looks are your parents' fault, your personality is your fault."  And no, she didn't offer me any ice after that burn.

Fast forward two years to eighth grade, and I was still that same nerdy dude, trying to make it through the day.  I wasn't bullied or beaten up.  I feel like I kinda fit in, but as they say, the grass is always greener on the other side, especially in the hallways of middle school.  Kids were dating then, but I was far from that happening.  My main crush that year shot me down every time I talked to her or even looked in her direction.  Despite the cold shoulder, I never really got the point.
Blow Pops

That year I was in a class called Creative Writing.  We put together the student newspaper each month and for Valentine's Day that year we decided to hold a fundraiser.  I can't remember the exact name, but I it was something like Heart Grams, which included a hand written note and a Blow Pop.  We sold the grams during lunch periods the week of the big holiday and then delivered the messages of love and admiration during the last hour of school.

Each day I eagerly awaited to see if anyone had a message for me.  But as each day passed, I discovered that love was not in the air for me.  Cupid's arrow had hit me, as I sent several to that crush, but the thought was not mutual.  I finally did get a Heart Gram on that Friday afternoon.  Written in red ink a simple message of appreciation signed Mrs. W with a smiley face.  Mrs. W was our beloved teacher, Mrs. Weissflug.   
Mrs. Weissflug RIP
Despite receiving that one message, I was still heartbroken.  I remember getting home from school that afternoon, going to my room and bawling my eyes out, thinking I was destined to be alone forever.  Remember, I was just 13 years old at the time, and the teenage brain is wired very differently.  Once I stopped blubbering I looked at that message again from Mrs. Weissflug.  Yes, I was having a pity party that no girl was interested in me, but then I considered this... 

There were some people who likely didn't get ANY Heart Grams during the week, and at least someone thought enough of me to send a message.  It may not have been an expression of teen love, but it did mean something to me.  That was 27 years ago.  I've never forgotten that day or that simple message.  Mrs. Weissflug is no longer with us, so there's no way she'll know just how much I appreciated that note.  It really did put things into perspective for me that afternoon.

I've had many teachers who have made an impact on me through the years.  It's such an important profession, and those who are dealing with those pre-teen and early teen kids have my support.  That age is a turbulent one, so thanks to all educators for what you do, and remember you never know how one act of kindness might impact a young student's perspective for years to come.

3 comments:

  1. I didn't know she had passed :( What a sweet story and tribute to her <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kevin I remember those Valentine Day Grams. I hated them. I remember praying I would get one just so I wasn't the only one who didn't. Talk about social pressure.
    I am sorry to hear she had passed. Your story puts in perspective how much a teacher's action can impact a person's life. How lucky we were to have her :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kevin, I really love your story and I was wanting your permission to repost it through email to many of my co-workers (as I am a teacher too) just to give a reminder to all teachers that that one little thing or message or smile can have an impact on a child forever. I have one of those teachers too- Mrs. Ellen Conley!

    ReplyDelete