Stand and deliver. The premise is simple. To begin each class, I ask a question and my students, one by one, stand to their feet and answer. What would you request for your last meal? If you could have written and performed any one song throughout history, what song would you choose? What was the last thing you Googled? If you could have one talent or skill that you don't currently possess, what would it be?
I've learned so much from their answers.
Yesterday was our final class session of the semester, and the students turned the tables. One by one, they posed the questions. I stood and delivered.
What's your most irrational fear? (Driving up a hill so steep that my car tips upside down.) If you had three sons instead of three daughters, what would you have named them? (Adam, Chase, and Jackson.) Who's your man crush. (My husband. They hated this answer. I stood by it, adding that his eyes crinkle in the most endearing way when he smiles. A few girls got all "awwww" and let me off the hook.)
Our answers reveal aspects of ourselves that we otherwise wouldn't have shared.
We're nuanced. I take an inordinately long time to fall asleep at night, I am unable to put in eye drops without opening my mouth, and I hang shirts in my closet by sleeve length and color. I'm plugging away on my first manuscript about motherhood, taking an entire summer off from teaching, and am inexplicably drawn to the show Survivor. Against my better judgment, I cry at viral YouTube videos of flash mobs that dance and sing.
And now my students know.
At dinner, it only seemed fitting to extend the conversation to my family. We're so familiar with each other that I'm often lulled to believe that I've learned everything about them, which isn't the case.
So, I asked. Would you tell me something that I don't know about you?
My oldest daughter likes monkeys just as much as she likes elephants. She's learned to dangle upside-down, no hands, on the jungle gym at school. Her current favorite colors are red and blue and pink and purple, as opposed to her old favorites, which had been just pink and purple, and her really old favorites, which had been yellow and green. And then, the clincher: now that she's six, she's decided that she's old enough to sleep with just her two Brown Bears and put the other stuffed animals away.
I never would have known.
It never hurts to ask.