Friday, June 1, 2012

Parenting journey

Life transitions are journeys. You don't necessarily understand how long of a journey when you start them. I knew I was pregnant with Shanna when I walked into a sushi restaurant and nearly vomited on the lobby floor. Lavender hand soap was awful. Normally I quite like it. I have had multiple people tell me that my pregnancy was the most miserable they have ever seen. I lost eighteen pounds in the first five months. I could barely eat. My body ate itself. I sucked fat in from all of my extremities. My belly was enormous. My face hollowed out. I finally lost my baby fat. I have noticeable cheekbones. I look far more intense and older.

I regained the eighteen and added twenty two more in the last four months. I discovered acupuncture and like a miracle my nausea disappeared. I was starving. But I couldn't handle cooking anything. If I cooked something that took longer than about five minutes my sense of smell would become overwhelmed and I wouldn't be able to eat the meal I had been cooking. It made me vomit. I couldn't keep it down. We ate out a lot.

I quit my job in the middle of the year at the semester break in January even though I wasn't due till the end of May. My vice principal did not want to replace me for a whole semester. I feel really bad about the kids I left. My replacement was uhm... not good. My classes were front loaded with the most hostile to authority kids in the school. Because they will work with me in a way they won't work with authoritarian people.

I was a good teacher partially because of the ridiculous boundaries I had with them. They did not get to know things about my personal life. I was not a peer. I am not your friend. I am your teacher. But I believe that in order to teach people you have to understand them. You have to know what kinds of things will motivate your individual learner.

Thus I had 8th Period Social Club. Otherwise known as academic detention. Anyone with a grade below a C had to come sit in my classroom for an hour after school every day. I talked to them. I got to know them. They had to make up the work and I sat there and talked to them about why they weren't doing it in the first place. I learned what was happening in their lives.

I asked one of my favorite former students what I taught him. He said I taught him to like himself. I'm really glad. I met him in a period where he was officially Emo and very depressed and I loved him and bullied him and encouraged him and made him live up to really high expectations. I taught him in my first year. The one period I was paid to teach. I gave that class I lot of attention. Two of the kids wanted to be my aides the next year. He was one of them. He came back after he graduated and he did 75% of the physical labor to move me out of my classroom when I was pregnant. It would have been really hard. It would have made me cry and puke a few times. I had a lot of stuff on the walls. He just showed up. He had already graduated. He knew I was leaving because he dropped by every so often just to chat. I was a major support figure for him during a crucial period.

He is the most intense one. I had many others to slightly lesser degrees. My former students still talk to me. I think that is why I don't like working with really little children. I can't handle feeling like I will be forgotten. If I am only going to have one year of contact, I want it to be when they will really take the lessons to heart. I want them at the height of teenage angst and then I feel like it will help.

I'm struggling like mad with this young child thing. I'm realizing that these kids will bloody remember me. I have spent upwards of 75% of the entire hours of their lives with them. I am not away from them very often. Every memory will contain me.

One of these days I will think they are old enough and I will start being less super nice at all times. When it is developmentally appropriate for me to think they should bloody well be acting like civilized human beings I will stop tolerating a lot of shit. For now I'm biting my tongue and I'm trying to let them explore the world. I talk to them about why it isn't polite to do things in different circumstances but I'm not punishing or acting angry at this time.

It's weird to explain how arbitrary a lot of etiquette stuff is. It's also interesting how much is about not soiling the laundry. In order to have real grace at eating you have to take your time and practice in a way that few people do. I grew up wiping my hands on the table cloth. Noah and other people keep yelling at Shanna for doing it. I don't yell at Shanna for doing it but I tell her that when we visit a restaurant or someone else's house people will think she is gross if she does that. And I wipe my hands on the table cloth.

I want to keep going but Noah has to go to work.

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