It’s The Little Things That Make Things Better

I’ve been writing a lot of doom & gloom here lately, but in thinking about my life right now, despite the stress I’ve been under, and despite the pile of day-job work I need to do this week, there are some good things:

I love that my daughter’s last words before sleeping last night were “I love you, daddy. You’re the best.”

I love that my wife has had almost a week of being pain-free.

I love that my cat comes running to bed whenever I go.

I love that some of my students offered to help me carry things to the classroom this morning.

I love that the Westboro Baptist Church couldn’t find Leonard Nimoy’s funeral.

I love that the guy who laid a trap and killed a German exchange student will spend the rest of his life in prison.

I love that my book is almost ready for beta readers.

I love that my VP17 classmates are amazing folks who continue to stay in touch and support each other.

I love that I haven’t had an episode of afibrillation in over a year.

I love that my weight is going down again.

I love that on my bike ride this weekend, I saw 15 turkeys, a rabbit 2 deer, a flock of geese flying under the bridge I was on, and two egrets.

The Real Reason Teaching is Hard

There’s all sorts of stuff out there about the long hours, the scorn we get from politicians and other morons, the relatively low pay, the socioeconomic issues that create students who don’t actually care to learn… I’m not going to talk about that stuff today.  Because while all that does make teaching difficult, it isn’t the hardest thing about this job.

No, the hardest thing is that the kids can break your heart.  Often, and in very jagged pieces.

I have a student who is unhealthily large.  He can’t wash himself properly, so he always has an aggressively foul odor.  He has no support at home.  I’m a big guy myself, but this kid… nobody should be so heavy, at 15, that they break a desk just by sitting in it.  He’s drowning in self hate while also putting on a happy minstrel face for his friends.  He’s told me how much it hurts him, but he won’t stop.

Another student has physical and mental issues that could easily be solved by medication, but her parents won’t allow her to take the medicine, because they are afraid she’ll go to hell for taking medicines.  They control every aspect of her life, including not letting her go to school when they want to punish her.  She’s missed 54 days of school so far, out of the 100 we’ve had.  If she gets the medicine behind their backs, they’ll send her to Nicaragua to be controlled by relatives there.  We’re trying to help her, but there’s only so much we can do.

There’s the seemingly model student, who is clearly going through something pretty traumatic, but isn’t willing to talk about it with anyone, even though he admits he probably needs help.

And then there’s the kid who wrapped his car around a tree, and who over the weekend tried to kill himself in shame, and is now in a psych ward.  I’m not making that up.  My fiction isn’t that fucked up.

On top of all that, there are the kids who just hate school, and by extension teachers.  They complain no matter what, and they’ll tell you “Fuck you” to your face if you call them on any of their nonsense.

And through all this, we teachers have to keep going.  We’re expected to wear a neutral face, and be on-task and learning-oriented all the time.  We’re expected to smile and nod at ridiculous, utterly stupid comments from parents, take abuse from students, and be utter professionals when all we want to do sometimes is scream, or break down and cry.

In ten years, I’ve been very lucky not to have lost any students to death, but even the ones who don’t get expelled are often lost, even though they’re in class every day.  There’s just only so much we can do, especially in the face of dwindling resources, politicians who think our job is easy, and parents who are utter failures at raising their kids.

Frankly, it sucks.