Over the past three years, I've felt some pretty positive things as a NYC high school teacher. Sometimes my students say something to me or do something so amazing that I can't help but feel a warm sense of happiness oozing out of my chest. It's quite disgusting. These are the things that put to ruin my theory that I am capable being in control of how I feel all of the time.
I frequently receive these "warm and fuzzy" feelings from Arnold and Della. These kids aren't the typical high school sweethearts (I've written about Arnold before, you can read it here). For one thing, they're
not that annoying couple that can't seem to get their hands
off each other in class and then break up one week later. You people are the reason why bands like My Chemical Romance exist.
Anyway, I've taught both Arnold and Della, and they are a pleasure to have in class. What's amazing
is that they actually motivate each other, both in and out
of school. What further separates them from the rest is their beautiful
one-year old son, Elijah, who motivates both of them to give it their best.
Over time, I've unofficially become Arnold's mentor. It's evident he lacks a male role model at home and to
fill this void, he's done what most good-natured students in his position tend to do: attach
themselves to a male teacher. For Arnold, that's me. We've been
shooting each other texts and Facebook messages more and more frequently. He's a good, young man, and only seven years younger than me. Sometimes, it's tempting to consider him a friend of my own
age and treat him like one, but I know I need to be something much more symbolic to him. Someone without weakness, someone who he can look up to. It's this type of positive shit that gets me into trouble and led to what happened next.
A few weeks ago, Arnold and Della asked, "How would you feel about being my baby's godfather?"
My original reaction: "Holy fucking shit balls!" Thankfully, this question was posed online, so the only person who heard my reaction was probably the girl running on the treadmill next to me. My head would probably have exploded from trying to maintain a poker face if it were asked in person. I was simultaneously honored and horrified. Honorrified, if you will.
Mista Godfather. Me? At the time, the only thing I knew about being a godfather was that it involved killing vast amounts of people and being referred to as the "Don." Of course, instead of completely relying on the movies for my education, I immediately ran a Google search for "godfather responsibilities." I was pleasantly surprised a real godfather does not traffic drugs or kill cops. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be receiving the "Don" title either. Life is all about compromise.
From my research, I learned these days being a godfather has more to do with acting as a moral compass than religion, which is good because I'm not religious. As I did more research, I realized this was something I could handle, and in fact, something I would enjoy. I discussed the opportunity with my wife, who seemed proud of the fact that my students selected me. More warm and fuzzy feelings.
I messaged Della on Facebook and told her that I would be honored to be Elijah's godfather, but wanted to know what she thought about Arnold picking me. I wanted to know if she was cool with it and I didn't want to rule out the possibility that it could be weird having your math teacher as your godfather, despite how cool math teachers are. Della responded, "I'm more than happy he chose you and not an irresponsible friend." You read it here folks, apparently being "irresponsible" doesn't earn you trust from others.
Yesterday, Arnold and Della came over to drop Elijah off for a few hours. This would be his first time alone with my wife and me and it was brilliant: we went to the park, I took him down slides, changed his diaper, and I caught all of his apple-vomit before it got on his shirt and my couch. My speed in that last act even surprised Della. Overall, it was an amazing day. This whole "rent-a-baby" business is pretty damn cool.