In Her Shell
Back To School Night
I am the only teacher in my department who likes Back to School night. Everyone bitches and moans in the days leading up to it (actually, we have two, because our student body is so big they split the alphabet) about how we have to stay there so late and they hate getting dressed up and talking to parents and what a colossal pain in the ass it all is.
But I think (secretly--they'd scorn me if they knew) that Back to School Night is like a first date--you get all dressed up and feel a little nervous anticipation, you hope you'll make a good impression and that the other person won't be a jerk.
And like a first date, no one has had a chance to screw up yet. I get some insight into my students by meeting their parents, and we can smile at each other and be glad to meet. Soon enough I'll be meeting some of them in a guidance counselor's office, both of us feeling anxious or pissed off.
It's untainted, and hopeful.
But leaving this week's Back to School Night, I couldn't wait to escape the building and it's not just because it was the hottest September night any of us could remember. It just felt so heavy with so much emotion, and need--parents came up to me or wrote notes saying, "Jessi has epilepsy," "John was just mainstreamed last year," "Kara needs to work on her writing," "Andrew loves
to read; he has books everywhere," and I shook their hands and answered their questions and waved to parents of students I've had before and it all just felt so... thick. The air was thick with the hope and the fear and in that building were child abusers and enablers and worriers and hearts overflowing with what they want for their children. It was oppressive, all that feeling
concentrated in one place.
How can I possibly do this? It's too much for me sometimes.
Something Else Made In China With High Lead Content
Damn Old Lady In The Parking Lot*
She made me miss Ed's birthday!
It was last Sunday, Sept. 16th, by the way.
He turned 58.
I'm sorry, Ed.*See Comments Section of Previous Post
One Reason I Haven't Posted In A While
happened to my car.
I am teaching freshmen for the first time this year. I had a few of them in my remedial test-prep class when I first started teaching, but never in groups bigger than 10. Now I have my very own two sections of Freshman Lit, with 18-24 students each.
I've been teaching juniors for three years. I had forgotten.
They are small and cute. They ask questions like, "Am I allowed to use this bathroom?" and "How do I get to the Science wing?" They aren't sure of themselves yet, haven't learned to be wary. They participate. They try.
They also, apparently, read. I ask my students on the first day of school to list all the books they've read in the last year, and draw a little face next to each one to indicate how they felt about reading it. When I ask my juniors to do this, brows wrinkle over blank eyes as they scour their memories for American Lit's requirements. My freshmen asked, "Do you mean for school or outside of school?" They made cute little lists indicating what they read for book reports, what they read for class, and what they read at home.
What happens? Do they get too busy or does it get too hard? Do they start feeling embarrassed to admit to reading for pleasure? Do we suck the joy out of it?
I'm afraid of breaking them.
When you put your items on the conveyor belt at the grocery store checkout, do you look over what you've chosen and try to see what it says about you? And do you analyze the person in front of you by looking at their food? And then judge them?
The Good Old Days
Last night we had dinner at a colleague's house with several other friends from work. A lot of wine was consumed. My old roommate and her fiance were there, and as we got up to leave, he turned to me with a nostalgic smile and said, "Remember the time we spent an hour..."
"Talking about masturbation at the pub crawl?" I interjected, fondy.
"No, when we--"
"Walked home from the train station without your shirts on
." My old roommate contributed, rolling her eyes.
," he insisted. "The time we went vibrator shopping online for her!" He triumphantly concluded, pointing at his fiancee.
"Ah yes," I nodded sagely. "I remember."