Tonight I let a student off the hook. She came to me, quiet, waiting to speak. She pressed her hand to her lips to stay the trembling, and when she opened her mouth her tears fell in line with her words. "Please," she said. "I'm overwhelmed."
She had extenuating circumstances, a sick relative, but more than that she had an honesty about her. Could she be taking me for a ride? Always a possibility. But I don't think so. And if she is, the worst she can say is that I was too kind, gave her a chance, believed her lie.
But she didn't cry like a liar.
Mostly it was her words--"I'm so tired. I'm overwhelmed" that got her the extension because in those sentences she crystallized my current feelings.
And I touched her hand (because I want someone to touch my hand) and I said, "We can work this out."
And if I ever grow to be so cynical that I stop believing in their tears, I hope I just retire.