The alarm went off as usual at 530 am. And, as always, I jumped out of bed like a spring rooster crowing for joy. With glorious anticipation I said the first three words of the day that always put me in a spiritual mind frame:
“Oh fuck this.”
Then I meditated for 7 minutes.
And didn’t do my Bible reading.
But I got up.
Only to discover we had no coffee.
But that’s okay. I would plow through anyway. I would eat well, drink water and just be of service.
But then I changed my mind and got two cups of coffee at the local Arco followed by a six pack of mini donuts.
The day continued with a pack of peanuts from the vending machine, a slice of pizza from a merciful student and one large brown banana. Nothing says health like lots of white flour, sugar and grease, right?
With that diet of champions, I had just enough energy to bust a student per class for sneaking their phone. By sixth period I was so done. Especially because the girl caught red handed has snuck her device on multiple occasions. Instead of sending her to the dean for each infraction, I thought I’d teach her the bigger lesson of accountability.
Today’s was: “Write me an essay about why you shouldn’t be on the phone, even if you don’t get caught,” I told her.
I wasn’t expecting a 10 page saga about integrity and how her loser sub kept her from sneaking clothing out of a department store down the road… about how I shifted her consciousness from a victim mindset to one of responsibility. But somehow I wasn’t expecting this either:
She went on to add this gem:
I had to scratch my head at that last line. I allow kids to sit together. I let them play music when they are sketching. We make vision boards and flip books. We listen to musicals and create super heroes. I even allow them to tell me what they are interested in learning and I will make that happen.
Oh well. At least she is a rare student who is unhappy with with me. Oh, wait, not true!
Wow, she sure knows how to make a gal feel good. I can already hear the soundtrack to the montage of the film playing. .
I won’t lie. This letter really hurt my feelings. I have been trying really hard to make the best of a hard job. But at the same time, when I see these kinds of excuses and finger pointing, I have to remember that this attitude has nothing to do with me. It will only bite her in the rear down the road when someone far more important than a substitute art teacher (a crappy one at that) doesn’t put up with her sneakiness.
Or maybe this outcome will never happen. Maybe, like some of those entitled kids whose parents buy their way into everything, she will just float on through.
But somehow, somewhere, she will pay. Because when we don’t do what’s right we have relationships with folks who don’t do what’s right. We marry at our level of dysfunction and we have kids who learn that dysfunction. And then those kids land in our schools and they have the opportunity to bump into a teacher “who knows nothing about art” but knows a lot about making the best of a situation no one expects themselves to be in.
And to lose the opportunity to gain a bit of wisdom, well, that’s on them.
As for me, that student today taught me more than any university a rich parent could have bribed me into. She once again reminded me that we cannot worry about what another person thinks about us (or in my case a whole classroom!) but we have to just do our best, show kindness, and move on.
In Andrea speak, “Zero Fucks Given!”
Three slices of pizza, an extra large fries and large Diet Coke later, I’m ready to stop ruminating about my less than ideal day. Instead I will sleep tight
because of my carb coma knowing I did my best and wake up to some delicious San Francisco Bay coffee. (Yup, this girl stopped at Costco before it closed. 8 packages of dark roasted pods prove to me that miracles are always at our finger tips.)
Happily Ticked Off Tip #34: Not everyone’s going to love you. Love yourself enough to try your best and then give them to God. (Bonus points if you pray for them. Extra bonus points if you’ll pray for me tonight!)