When you inspire a child, bridges are built, and a crucial foundation is made. A fire ignites in their eyes and burns in their chest, pulsating along with their heart.
That fire blazes in their mind, painting beautiful portraits of the good they can do, will do; when the artistically productive energy finally releases through their fingertips, or any other place it manifests.
Our teachers do this every day.
Not only for my own children, but for what they single handily did for me, growing up.
It is something I mustn’t ever forget.
In fact, I must do the opposite.
I will tell as many people as I possibly can.
Some teachers are the only support system for their students. They nurture them even more than children’s own parents nurture them.
Think about that.
Some of my own passions came from the love I have for writing. And, oddly enough, my sense of humor was uncovered by my freshman English teacher, Mrs. Probst.
I have always taken myself too seriously.
I forget to laugh. Mrs. Probst helped me to grow more. She pushed me. As fun as she was, she was just as stern and very sarcastic. Which I give her props for too, I think.
Teachers meticulously plan our lives, each and every day. They plan their students’ lives more than their own, I would imagine.
Well, in ninth grade, Mrs. White (her name before marriage) was having a birthday and I planned a surprise birthday party for her.
When everyone came back from recess, there was a celebration of balloons, decorations, cake, snacks and of course, a super-duper excited Mrs. White.
I walked her over to the broom closet.
I had found her fiancé’s number from the vet he owned in the PHONE BOOK. Yes- phone book. Stop. Lol.
There stood a confused Ms. White, I’m sure thinking a practical joke was about to transpire right in front of her.
But, instead, there was her fiancée, Mr. Eric, as he stood holding flowers for her.
Her smile swelled and her eyes almost popped out of her head until her tears started to fall.
It was such a happy moment.
She went on to be my teacher again, and again because I failed. Just kidding!
She did go on to teach me again, but it was because she moved up a grade.
This past Lundi Gras, I was standing on a Mardi Gras ladder with my kids on Napoleon Avenue when I looked down at my phone.
Mrs. Probst had died.
It was the wrong moment to read that. A gut punch, for certain.
I wasn’t prepared for it.
Then again, are we ever?
The short answer is, No. No we are not.
Tomorrow is not promised and our time is only limited.
Her laugh. God, that laugh. The way her eyes smiled. The way she said, “fart.” Lord, I still shudder. Lol.
Mrs. P.- A lady with passion in her eyes, love in her heart and a soul on fire. She’d help anyone she could. First, by making them smile.
On my last day of school before we graduated on, Mrs. P always read Dr. Seuss’
“Oh, The Places You’ll Go.”
Except the second time was different.
Our class was too rowdy. And she needed to close it up and end it early because most of the class was way too wild and excited about leaving.
I was horrified. Absolutely gutted. I wanted her to read it so badly, but I, too, was being silly and loud.
This ate at me forever, until we were reunited on Facebook about 10 years ago.
I was able to apologize and tell her how sorry I was. In response to that she said to me,
“Erik, you make me proud every single day, and the little family you’ll make one day already makes my heart smile.”
You see, being a gay dad, and hearing words like THAT before I even could legally build my family, sticks with you. Forever.
I want the world to know what kind of person Mrs. Probst was, and how her smile still shines today in my heart. And many, many others as well.
I knew our new book was coming out soon,
but I wanted to find the right words. Then, I found them.
Teachers guide us all, every single day.
It is so important we lift these vessels of hope, of empowerment, of confidence, of humility, and of laughter.
The brilliant light which shines onto our children deserves our gratitude every day. And when it can’t happen every day, let it happen right now. Our time here is precious. It is so important.
I know Mrs. P would say that to me and then, give me that “wink.”
About Erik Alexander
Erik is a stay-at-home ‘papa’ to three beautiful children. He has lived in New Orleans for almost twenty years by way of south Mississippi. He met his husband Douglas in 2006 and have been together for 16 years. They both love New Orleans and have a deep sense of pride to call this eclectic city home. When Erik isn’t running behind his kiddos, he enjoys working out, cooking, baking, gardening and tending to our family’s short term rental. He also runs his blog called Nolapapa.com to help give other aspiring parents in the LGBTQ community hope and insight on parenting and personal growth. Erik strongly feels that visibility is crucial for a two dad family as it helps normalize what today’s families can look like. Erik is also releasing his second children’s book this summer. For more information, go to his website HERE.