Yo, teach!

I have a savior complex, especially with my students.

I’m sure in some ways it can be beneficial, but mostly I don’t think it’s doing anyone any favors.

I’m fiercely protective of my students. I want to be the one who makes everything turn right again. I want to be the one they trust. Me, me, me. So if it is about me, am I actually helping them at all?

Over the years I have seen so many sad things. Kids hurting and kids hurt and this is all in a middle-class, mostly white, suburban area. I used to think that kids here were ok, but as it turns out abuse is everywhere.

The thing is, if I weren’t me, I probably wouldn’t know in most cases. Sure, some were obvious, like the student who had to leave with the police on the last day of school because the meth house she lived in was discovered. But more are subtle, you don’t know until they ask to have lunch with you and they mention something that gives you pause. My first year teaching, a girl wrote a suicide note to me in her daily journal. So much grief and trauma and …

This year, more than ever, has cemented the role of public schools in society. It has made me acutely aware of the limitations you have when the only way to connect with a kid is through a computer. It has caused me to sit and stare at the wall trying to figure out how to reach a kid. Sitting on a zoom call while a kid sobs to you and tells you how sad they are– I haven’t quite figured out a way to describe that feeling.

So much of my life and health is impacted by my career. My anxiety, my sadness, my savior complex, my fixation on trying to save kids, the way I tie my success to empathy and kindness, it sucks the life out of me.

And, one could argue (and they have) that it’s not even my job. Right? My job is to educate. Deliver a curriculum.

But how do you deliver a curriculum to the child whose dad was just put in jail? How do you keep a child in for not doing homework when you know they take care of their baby sister all night? How do you punish a child for not paying attention when you know they had fetal alcohol syndrome?

I’ve heard so many things during this pandemic. Shut up. Do your job. Must be nice to not have to do any work. You are lazy.

It’s wearing on me. I don’t like to admit that, because I’m supposed to be stronger, but it is. Did people in other generations feel like this? Like the world was going to shit and there is nothing you can do to stop it? I’m so terrified of everyone’s anger. I’m so heartsick at the lack of kindness and the fight over politics. If you cannot even hear a sentence you disagree with without having your blood pressure rise, perhaps it’s time to reflect a little.

Maybe it’s just me. And maybe I’ve had way too much time in my head without the normal distractions of life. But I had a dream last night that a long-lost relative left me a fortune so I could stop working and write. And I woke up crying, which is strange—because isn’t that my dream? A way to be a full-time writer?

I will admit-the thought of logging back onto Zoom in a few days makes me feel ill. I’m weary. I’m tired. We’re heading back to school f2f in a few weeks and I’m thrilled-except that I’m high-risk and the kids eat lunch in my room, unmasked, and that keeps me up at night. But I cannot wait-I can’t wait to have to deal with recess drama and dance around the room while the kids are working and randomly blast music to take them off guard and decide to take a day off writing and turn off the lights and tell ghost stories and read books outside once it gets warm and all the other tiny joys of life with a class of 10-year-olds who hang on your every move.

Teachers out there-maybe you’re like me. Maybe you’re not. But what I know is there ain’t NO WAY we’d all be doing this anymore if we didn’t love kids. And so I want you to know that I see you. I’m with you. Hang in there, if you can. If you can’t? Ain’t no shame in that, either.

XO

Bits About This and That, Back to School Version

I’m not sleeping very well right now (who is?) and my dreams are INSANE.

Like, certifiably. People from high school professing their undying love, me on a subway train trying to find my stop but every time the doors open, it’s not the right one. I’m a guest on a talk show but when they ask me a question, my mouth won’t open.

(The other day I was thinking about a friend’s mom who had her mouth wired shut so she could lose weight. I was in like 5th grade, probably. But, anyway, random thought leads to random dream, right?)

I can’t focus on anything, my whole attitude is up/down, up/down. I’ve never complained so much in all my life. I’ll try to read a book or write, and find myself thinking about how the little sister on the show Family Matter just disappeared and no one ever said a word about it. Like, hello, Laura, you’re so busy with Steve Urkel you forgot you had another sibling?

I’m the biggest complainer right now that I have ever met in my life. Every single thing just makes me irrationally annoyed. And I can recognize it, it’s grief, I’m familiar with that. But I can’t seem to stop it. I just keep going, bitching about this and that and losing all touch with what is actually important.

Except it all seems to lead to what is actually important, which is the health of my family!

I feel things deeply. We know this by now. I analyze. I follow my intuition.

And right now, my intuition is like, oh, hey, go this way. Nope, that way. HA! Just kidding. That other way!

I’ve been buying too much stuff. Here’s the cycle: I’m sad, so I buy stuff. I’m overwhelmed, so I have to declutter, so I give stuff away. Then buy more.

Um, Christy.

Well, in the spirit of another blog post that is really about nothing, I’ll leave you with this: take a deep breath. Go outside in the fresh air. Write a letter to someone and rip it up. Scream into a pillow.

Then, we pick ourselves back up and on we go.

Bits about this and that

Well, it’s definitely autumn here in the midwest. We put our Halloween decorations up yesterday. I tried to be a little less National Lampoon’s this year, but … I tried, ok?

We are on a 14 day quarantine because one of us was exposed to the Covid. My mom heart is so sad. Also, there really should be a reality show about a 4th-grade teacher trying to teach rounding to the millions place using a number line via Zoom while her 7-year old comes in every 4 minutes to ask a questions about his Zoom school.

You know, hypothetically.

If anyone out there is waffling, you should buy a ranch house, not a 2 story. I spend at least 50% of my day moving things from one level to the next, putting them on the stairs to be taken, getting angry because no one else takes the things up or down the stairs, and then finding more things to move to a different level.

Because of the general malaise I feel thanks to the pandemic and the election, I alternate between Zillow and Petfinder. I look at houses I can’t afford. Then puppies I have no business getting because I already have two cats, and they are so much work and I don’t need more stress or decisions to make.

I have 94,000 books to read in this house. Just thought you should know because I ran out of bookshelf space again.

I wonder how many trips I could take if I didn’t spend my money on all the dumb stuff I have in my house.

But, I mean, we can’t take trips right now, so who is the real winner?

I wish our fall TV shows were coming back right now.

Today I decided to clean one toilet. Because my son is disgusting. Like, really, a disgrace to humans. He gets pee in places that must be invisible because then it smells like pee. So then I thought, I’m cleaning one toilet, might as well clean the next one. Then I cleaned all 4 bathrooms, did all the laundry, vacuumed, and changed the sheets. I was supposed to be relaxing, but now my house smells like Lysol instead of pee, so…

I have a new goal: to get an essay published in a magazine. I’m working on it, you guys. Wish me luck.

We watched Jaws together as a family last night. Dude. The guy? The shark hunter? Not Mr. Hollan’s Opus, but the other one? He is intense. We were belly laughing at the scene where they are sharing their scars and stories.

Ok, well, that’s enough about this and that for today.

What’s new with you? Drop it in the comments and tell me what’s up!

XO

Christy

The Dueling Manifestos

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A post circulates Facebook featuring a teacher who is describing a school day during the covid19 pandemic. If you haven’t seen it, the point is that parents who are pushing for kids to be back to school face-to-face possibly aren’t thinking of what it will actually be like for kids (separated, masked, no partner work, no touch).

Cue 8 million vitriolic comments about how teachers are using fear tactics, they’re lazy, they just don’t want to go back to school.

The next day, a post circulates Facebook featuring a teacher who took the original post and point by point flipped it into how a teacher could make the day into a magical experience. “Oh, look! We are astronauts in our masks!”

Cue comments about how AMAZING this teacher is, and that’s who I want to teach my kid, and see, teachers, you don’t have to be negative about everything. 

This narrative of the dueling Facebook counterpoints is so tired. The reality is that, like with almost anything, neither one of those are what we will actually expect. They are hyperbole–used to help prove a point. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, however, people see them and nod their heads and suddenly they have ammunition. That first poster wasn’t saying she would NOT try to help the kids be comfortable at school–she was trying to help parents understand that it would not be the same. 

This black-and-white, I’m right and you’re wrong, “it only works if I can fit it in a meme” way of thinking is ruining us. I mean, memes are great. Some of them make me belly laugh. Some are meant to point out irony. And I’m leaving politics completely out of this because at this point what can any of us even do about that? And this isn’t even bringing up actual, try satire, which has really lost its place because things are so bananas right now, everything could be satire.

But, literally anyone can make a meme, or a point-by-point post. I know absolutely NOTHING about certain things. Like hockey. I know nothing about hockey. But I could pull up a website, make a very professional looking (thank you very much) meme that says, “90 % of hockey players go on to be paid higher than their peer group” and every hockey mom in America will be printing that shit out and placing it on their vision boards. You know, the vision boards they have for their kids. 

I’m not even sure most people have real opinions anymore, because their views are so shaped by what they see online. And this is dangerous because most of it is garbage. The word trauma is being thrown around all willy-nilly. Posts about human trafficking with wildly misinterpreted, misused, and even completely just made up numbers are making the rounds. And this doesn’t even touch on the political stuff (I just had heart palpitations thinking about it).

I’m so afraid of the way we’ve learned to interact with each other, particularly online. I know this isn’t new, but it is getting worse. We pepper insults into every comment. In real life, we are given the middle finger for wearing a mask, or not wearing a mask. We see one opinion someone has and decide they are rude or unkind. 

While I was writing this, I witnessed this interaction on Facebook:

Person 1: someone I know to be very concerned about the environment, and the chemicals we use in cleaning products. She shares an article about concerns over the amount of chemicals used in cleaning supplies to decontaminate schools.

Person 2: Just another fear mongering tactic to continue to keep kids out of school.

Huh? 

My GOODNESS we have lost touch. Not EVERYTHING is a personal affront on what you believe in. Not EVERYTHING is a fear tactic. Not EVERYTHING pertains to you and your exact situation. And, you don’t always have to comment.

Seeing it, being immersed in it, is affecting my mental health. I’m still recovering from a childhood where we were stupid bitches, cry-babies, idiots, and lazy. Those wounds run deep and, like anything else, I suppose sometimes we don’t break those cycles and so some of the people with these behaviors were also subject to that. And your answer might be, if you can’t handle it, then stay off social media.

But, you know what? That’s not fair. With the pandemic, I don’t see any of my friends. I want to see photos and what people are up to. I want to laugh at the fact that we all try to vacuum something up like 20 times rather than pick it up and throw it away. I want to read stories that move me. I want to learn what books to read and shows I might like. I want to get to know people. I love learning about people!

And I want us to fix it. I want us to think about what we’re sharing. I want us to think about what we’re saying in the comments. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be able to interact online, or disagree with someone, I just wish we could be kind. Be willing to admit you don’t know enough about a topic and you’ll learn more. Be willing to apologize. Be willing to admit you were wrong. That wasn’t a good source. I see that was incorrect. Leave out the insults along with the opinion. I really try to use my comments sparingly, and save them for things I feel like I’m sufficiently knowledgeable about.

 I just want us to do better. (This includes me, by the way. I’m not better than anyone else, just trying hard and working to be aware. Sometimes I’m totally surprised by the way other people interpret my opinion as closed-minded and then remember there are so many things I have yet to learn).

Know better, do better. 

Xxoo

Christy