Continuing the saga of how I am foiled at every attempt to uphold my Holidailies obligations, last night I had no Internet at home. It was a long day--students' presentations, followed by writing their final exam for today.

This group of students has been a challenge: high neurosis quotient, but lots of fun; more trouble getting the hang of certain skills and concepts than classes past, but willing to work long hours and power through until things got done.

A few weeks ago, a student confessed that she had been nervous about taking my class because I "don't give off a mom vibe." A loaded statement in many ways, although undeniably true compared to certain colleagues. But toward the end of the semester, I feel like a clucking mother hen. I give honest critiques but try to be encouraging, I sit through their presentations feeling a mixture of detachment and overinvolvement. I want them to do well, and I'm excited when students who I know are terrified of public speaking get up there and look confident and knowledgeable; I'm disappointed when I can tell that students aren't giving their best, or are not taking the work seriously. I feel protective when clients offer what I feel are unfair criticisms of student projects. I may "rip them to shreds," as they like to say, but outsiders had better show some appreciation of their hard work.

My tradition on final exam day is to bring in the coffee maker, and offer some cookies, fruit, bagels, etc. Once upon a time I used to bake the cookies myself, but I just do not have time for that lately. I knew that this little spread would be especially welcome today, since most of the students went out last night to celebrate their successful presentations and our final was schedule first thing in the morning. Indeed, they scarfed down most of the food and took the rest with them, grateful for the offering.

Meanwhile, some of them were truly surprised that the final was a real exam, not open note, and actually tested them on the course material. Which is, you know, what a final is supposed to do, but apparently many were convinced that yesterday was the real culmination of the course, and that I'd just let them go through the motions. Seriously, you'd think they didn't know me by now.

So I may not give off a mom vibe, and I have no designs on being mom-like to them in any way whatsoever... but I do have a lot of motherly-ish feelings toward these students. I'm not a head-patter. I don't pamper. I want them to be ready for the world outside when they leave my class, with high expectations of themselves and realistic ideas of how hard they'll have to work. I push them hard, and there is no work that can't be improved at least a little more. Some may see me as a hardass. But I know that next week, when many of them graduate, I'll be proud and excited and optimistic and a little sad. I may even tear up a tiny bit.

I call that pretty maternal. Not that I'd ever say that to them, of course.