Monday, March 15, 2010

The Moment We all Dread

I've had about four or five blog posts percolating in my head over the past several weeks, and now's a great time to let one loose upon an unsuspecting public (Read: The the dozen or so readers I have. You're all the greatest! [Yes, even you!])

Growing up, we all have things which we swear over any number of books of varying levels of holiness that we will never be like our parents. Inevitably, we end up doing those things and kick ourselves and say they can't believe it happened to us. Sometimes it's something which just happens because we're adults, and that's what adults do. There's other things that our parents do that we shouldn't emulate, yet we do them anyway.

The first reminds me of my greatest rebellion against my parents. I had just started college and was on my first shopping trip. I was a big breakfast person (Not so much now. I'll explain that one of these days.), and was in search of cereal to eat. My mom was always adamant that sugary kids' cereals were out, apart from the odd box of Cap'n Crunch or Frosted Flakes. Instead, I was raised on a steady diet of Frosted Mini Wheats and Honey Nut Cheerios. Since I was away from home, and my mom wasn't over my shoulder, I decided to indulge in some decadence.

I bought a box of Cookie Crisp. (Just as an aside, it's things like this that cause people to think I can't relate to them very well. Yes, it's the most rebellious thing I've done to my parents in my entire life. *sigh*)

Anyway, I got back to the dorm, and the next morning, before church I poured a bowl of my cereal and took a bite. It was disgusting. It tasted nothing like cookies, and in no time it was inedible because it was so soggy. I opened the dorm room window, and tossed the contents out. I sat down and realized that my parents were right--kids' cereal is pretty much pants. When I did that, I winced because I realized I was thinking just like my parents. I sulked in Sunday School, and the teacher wanted to know why. When I told him, he just laughed and said as long as I didn't emulate them in bad ways it wouldn't be so bad.

Lately, I fear I've had some incidences where the latter has occurred.

Growing up, my mom would on occasion just get fed up with myself, my dad, or most often life itself, and completely lose the plot. We'd all duck and cover and hope it would blow over, but it usually didn't for a good day or so. I was always scared that I would make her more upset, so I would hide from her and do my chores out of her sight. I would be infuriated when the phone would ring or someone would come to the door, and that person would get treated to my mom acting completely normally. On one occasion, I tried to see if the coast was clear immediately after she got off the phone, and learned that apparently those moods could be turned on with a simple switch. I always told myself that I would never act like that. It hurt so much because it felt like it was either a show, or the simple fact that it was all my fault.

I have a rather odd dichotomy in that my honours class immediately preceeds my worst class: a class full of several repeaters of seventh grade (four of them are repeat repeaters), chronically lazy individuals, and a couple of poor kids caught in the crossfire by the the vagaries of the scheduling gods. My honours class is a bit draining, but in a great way because I spend the whole class chasing them about and having a blast. The other four teachers on my team bitterly complain because it's essentially a class full of kids who attempt to outdo each other in their attempt to be the teacher's pet, and they annoy the snot out of the other teachers, but I love them dearly and give them the attention that they frankly deserve. So, to go from that to my toughest class takes a toll on my emotions and my stamina, and as a result I don't always have the patience and grace that I should have with them.

Several weeks ago, I lost it with the class on more than one occasion. I'm just tired of their ingrained sense of learned helplessness, complete lack of personal resolve to take on adversity, and a complete inability to take responsibility for anything. Most of my students are at least on the bandwagon for taking some responsibility for their actions, and are learning that their helplessness in some things are actually reversible, but that class refuses to budge.

As I was chewing on them for the above, I came to a completely despairing realization: I was chewing these kids out whilst on the inside I was perfectly calm. It was as though I was able to step back and see myself chewing on these kids whilst at the same time I was my perfectly calm and rational self. In fact, when one of the few good souls asked a question, I instantly flipped off the switch and answered them politely. Even though I said nothing that they could take as being hurtful (I always choose my words carefully with my students for obvious reasons), I was gutted because I was acting just like my mom--when I said I would never do that.

I just don't know what to do or how to feel other than disappointed with myself and sad. The dichotomy in education is that even though some students are truly lost causes, and you have to realize you won't reach them no matter what, you still have to deal with them on a daily basis. Sometimes I wish I could just ship those lost causes off to some place where either someone can touch them, or where circumstances force them to wake up and make something with their life. Unfortunately, I can't really do that, so I have to deal with reality, as I always do. I just hope that I can deal with reality without being my parents.

Until next time.

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