It’s summer break for us right now, which means I have more time for things other than work. For the most part that’s meant more cooking, more exercise, and a lot more binge-watching in the evening. But it also means that I have a bit more time to scan social media than during the regular academic year. And I had an important realization the other day.

I don’t connect with all of my students on social media, but a reasonable percentage of my connections are to former students (except Twitter for some strange reason). And over the years that I’ve been connected to them, I’ve gotten to watch as they move through their lives. They graduate. They get jobs. They move into (and out of) relationships. They get pets. They buy condos or houses. They get married. They have kids. None of this is surprising, of course.

But what struck me recently is just how much I love the window into their lives. It means so much to me to see them as they get older and experience more of life. In some ways it makes me feel old, because the teens I taught to program now have mortgages and spouses and kids. But it also makes me happy to see them celebrate their vacations and pets and milestones. Seeing the complete people whom I used to teach is one of the joys of my life. Thank you to all my former students who share their lives with me.