I teach sixth grade in a school a few blocks away from the city limits of Chicago. I looped up with my fifth grade class from last year, so I have really gotten to know my students well. Are teachers allowed to have favorite students? In my mind, yes – as long as they don’t show it. Let’s face it – some human qualities are simply more attractive than others. I try to find the best in all my students, but for some students, I don’t have to look far.
Carla (not her real name, of course) has such an innate enthusiasm for life that she can hardly contain it. When she understands a new concept in math, you can literally see the light bulb go off as her eyes light up. When I ask my students to publish one piece of writing in a month, she asks to write two. When they work in groups, she is eager to participate and makes sure that everyone is included.
As the students were lining up for dismissal one day (we practice firm handshakes, eye contact, and polite farewells on a daily basis), I heard Carla tell her friends, “Today was my best day ever.” I was intrigued. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened that day. In fact, Mondays tend to be fairly blah in my classroom no matter how hard I try – there had been no special science experiments, no interactive social studies activities, and no math games. So I asked her why. She turned with a smile and a shrug and said, “I don’t know. Every day is my best day ever.”
What a great motto for life! Three things in what Carla said really struck me. First, she used the present tense. She didn’t say that yesterday was the best, nor did she say that tomorrow would be the best. She was living in the moment. While we can reflect on the past and plan for the future, we can only act in the present. How much richer our lives are when we can appreciate every moment in the moment!
Secondly, Carla took ownership of the day. She did not merely say, “Today is the best day ever” in a collective or general sense. Instead, she claimed it for her own, as if recognizing that each person has intrinsic value, not just as part of the mass of humanity.
Lastly, Carla did not mitigate the force of her statement by saying something generic like “Every day is a good day.” She still insisted that every day was the best (a superlative adjective for all the English majors out there). How different our lives would be if we approached every day with the same attitude – giving our best, no matter what.
Live life in the present, claim it as your own, and give your best. That’s pro-life in the fullest sense.
P.S. I didn’t realize when I started this post that there is a well-known SpongeBob SquarePants episode with the same title. Hopefully I didn’t infringe on any copyrights or disappoint any readers who were expecting me to tie in some SpongeBob references. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a full episode of the show in my life, although I can probably sing a few lines from the theme song.