Today has been a day of many struggles. Mostly with myself. So before I begin what will inevitably sound like complaining, (although it's intended to be "reflection" rather than "ranting"), lets talk about the weekend.
Because of the death of a friend's little sister, many old friends from high school flew into town for the memorial service. Thus the weekend took on a flavor of immeasurable bitterness mixed with the subtle and familiar sweetness of seeing old friends. The bitterness behind the motive for our gathering is so difficult to taste on one's palette that there is a sense of guilt for even wanting to take joy in seeing people who I have missed. It also confuses me that even though I never met the sister, I still feel as though her status of permanently absent is palpable even to me. I can't decide if this is because I still have open and ragged memories of how it feels to lose a family member, or because she was so obviously an asset to humanity and now gone... or a combination of both. What's more disturbing is that when I went to look for her obituary, I found ANOTHER obit for a 19 year old killed in a driving accident, then my cousin in high school has joined an "RIP so and so" Facebook group for a kid, and my students were talking about a funeral for someone they know/knew. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?? Then I saw an Allstate commercial that shows car loads of happy kids/teenagers driving down some desert road with the statement that every year X-number of kids go out for a drive and never come back. Being able to put a face on one of those kids in the commercial almost made me cry... I had to remind myself this was TV. Why so many casualties? Have I simply never noticed them before? Has it always been like this? What really gets me is how this sister of my friend would have lived if she'd been wearing a seat belt. I can't get over it. Anyway. I was going to use this as a ramp to talk about how great it was to see all of my friends, but now the mood is ruined.
Other struggles... feeling sick in the morning when you have to go to work! I don't want to call in because I am truly critical to the operation of those classes, no one can say that my presence as the teacher is not important. And besides that, I would hate to call in on a minor "I feel sick" day, never knowing if a major (and long lasting one) may decide to strike in the future. It's tough being critical!
Then there is another struggle with me. I decided it would be funny to write a parody of the Gilligan's Island theme, using material from the play Twelfth Night. Then I tried to learn how to play it on guitar. A few new chords later, I could sort of do it. Then I thought it would be fun to bring it in and perform it for the class. This was a great idea until about two minutes before I had to leave and decide whether or not I actually wanted to take my guitar and commit to it. I did. Then I got to class. I decided to wait and see how time fared. We ended our important to-do's with fifteen minutes spare. OK, fine, I made it this far, I'll go through with it. Suddenly I am embarrassed by students looking at me, (a very bad thing in the teaching profession). But then I figure, if I REALLY cared about being in a position that insured I always looked good and was never subjected to some good old ego deflating humiliation, I wouldn't have chosen teaching. So I sang, sometimes hitting the notes, sometimes not, clumsily strummed, and made it through my rendition of "Orsino's Island," and here I am to tell about it. Maybe I can lose ALL sense of ego and do it repeatedly next year! We'll see.
More struggles today, again with myself, include my desire to be liked. But if you ask me to my face, I will deny it vehemently and possibly issue threats. I am well aware that to be a successful enforcer of rules, deadlines, etc. that one has to accept that many students will not appreciate your consistency, stamina, structure... and thus won't like you. I can handle not being liked. But it does not make my day brighter, even if I refuse to let it be a dimmer. I especially hate it when my desire to be consistent and fair elevates into a power struggle that I blindly enter and don't notice until two irritating minutes later when I realize what has happened. A counselor told me that when two people enter a power struggle, both lose, so never do it. I take this to heart, but then don't see it coming when I forget that I don't need to explain myself more than once on the naive assumption that the kid didn't understand me the first time. They understood, they are merely arguing.
Arguing bothers me. I usually brood about it while driving home. When I got in trouble in high school, I knew that I deserved it. All those lunch detentions for being tardy? Yeah. Extra work for talking in class? Yeah. Being called on when I was OBVIOUSLY mentally elsewhere? Yeah. I think being able to accept those punishments without complaint was one of my strong points. So when I see the need now to dole one out, I don't understand the obligatory bickering that ensues. I forget that I don't need to bicker. I'm the teacher, I win! If something was unfair I wouldn't do it. So when a kid decides that they don't like me because they think I'm hard when I think I fall over myself trying to provide extra materials, extra explanations, extra resources, etc., or because they think I'm mean when I'm trying to hold them to standards that make the class run smoothly and uninterrupted, and they want to argue with me or roll their eyes at me, yes it BUGS me! But I will not lose sleep over it. And I will work with my desire to "be liked" until it is no longer a hindrance against which I struggle, so much as a mere tool to make me a harder worker and as fair as possible.
So there's a day of struggle. Oh yeah, and one more:
I struggle to understand THIS.
Dear Billy Corigan, EXPLAIN NOW. thanks.
P.S. if that is, in fact, a nuclear explosion in the back ground, I might understand, but the evidence is still unverified, so I'm going to need further explanation.