Sometimes I look at them, the stubby little bodies and tops of heads, and hope that they’re okay – in the larger sense. I hope their parents are good to them. I hope they’re loved, and protected, and I guess I have to hope they’re lucky too, because so many weird accidents can happen before adulthood, and maybe it’s saddest when it happens before adulthood, because how do you know who they are? Who they would have become, rather, and the path of that sort of thinking is morbid and torturous and best avoided.
They aren’t my children, I didn’t make them with my body and I don’t get to keep them. They grow up, age out of our programs and into other schools, and the parents leave promising to write. They seldom do. If they do, it’s the kids who ask. “Can we send Miss Lola a Christmas card?” they, the parents, repeat these anecdotes to you when they bump into you next, in a grocery store aisle, completely confused by their offspring’s request. “She remembers you!” they squeak, amazed and proud. I always, always feel a little tempted to ask them where they thought their kid was all day – it wasn’t with mommy and daddy. It was in school, day in and day out, and sometimes late at night, and sometimes weekends, and then one day there is no more Misses at all, and the friends from school only appear awkwardly in the park or coming through the front door. I always just press my lips together and conclude it isn’t worth it, that whatever I said they’d write off as rude, and that after all none of us are going to change. I shift my groceries from one hip to another and remark vaguely that isn’t it funny how they always remember, isn’t it nice, I guess we were all such a part of each other’s lives . . .
Paper, plastic, or nostalgia.