Ok, fair warning. If you want to laugh, skip this post. It's been a long week and I need to detox.
I've been feeling very introspective this weekend. Probably a large part of it has been the tremendous lack of sleep I've gotten. From Tuesday morning until Friday evening, I'd logged a minimal 13 and a half hours of sleep (and don't you dare feel sorry for me: it was my own damned fault. I'd promised too many things to too many friends). When you're that exhausted, you tend to wonder what you're living for.
So I started wondering what I was doing with my life. Why I get up at 5 in the freaking morning each morning (and let me tell you, I hate it every morning. Even the birds tell me to shut the hell up because they're still sleeping). Why am I still teaching? I've joked about my kids, but I don't think I've ever really talked about my kids.
I think it's time I talked about my kids.
Yeah, I joke about my kids all the time. I tell goofy stories about them. Some of them even get not-so-respectful nicknames amongst the teachers like "Mr. Wifebeater" (named after the wifebeater shirts he always wears) or "Coppertop" (because she tried to add a little red to her hair and instead died it bright orange). But deep down, I've always loved my kids.
That's why I get up in the morning. And that's also why I wonder why I get up in the morning.
Part of what makes teaching such a hard job (in addition to the long hours and the sucky pay) is the fact that we're not exactly making widgits here. We're trying to pass information from one person to another. And that requires some sort of relationship. You can't teach without building that bridge first. So I've tried to build that relationship with my students. But you can't build that bridge without giving something of yourself first. It's hard to offer a piece of yourself: rejection is a real possibility. Thankfully, with most of them, it's pretty easy: as long as you're willing to reach, so are they. But some of them have been hurt before, and they don't want to reach. They push you right out. And it hurts. It might not even be your fault, but it still feels like a fail.
And things happen to kids. Oh, the broken bones and badly-dyed hair isn't so bad: you can laugh about shit like that with them. It's the other crap that you can't do anything about that breaks your heart. Sometimes it's something small like Taylor falling in love with a girl I knew didn't love him. Sometimes, it's not. Kevin lost his dad to cancer. His brother couldn't handle it so he started doing drugs and disappeared on the streets. So, now Kevin has lost both his dad and his brother. One of my girls has an inoperable brain cyst: every time it gets bigger, it makes it harder for her to learn. To add insult to injury, the cyst has made her deaf in one ear. Samantha was kidnapped for 4 days and raped by her captor. I never even got to say goodbye or give her a hug before her parents moved her to another school.
All this happened this year alone.
They become a part of you, and you a part of them. Whether it's something cataclysmic or merely a broken heart, you feel it. And when they fail, it feels like you failed too. Every D and F on the report card feels like your fault. Every tear you can't stop feels like you caused it.
Yeah, I make fun of the funny moments. Sometimes, you have to hold on to the funny moments.
Next post will be a funny moment. Promise.