It's that dreaded time of the year again. School starting. Every year I say I dread it, but when it comes down to it, I am excited to start with a new group of kids. A fresh start, with new school supplies. You have to be a teacher to appreciate a brand new sharpened pencil the way I do. I'm even known to be all "fakey" happy, something I loathe, during the first two weeks of workshops and school. I used to think if I faked being happy about being treated like a pile of poo, I'll really be happy. Then realityalways sinks in and I realize, the last three years have sucked, and each year was worse than the previous one. You can only be beaten down each and every day for so long before you lose your passion, self-confidence, and excitement. For the past two weeks I've woken up thinking, "I don't want to go to school. They bully me, call me names, put me down, and no one will sit with me at lunch. Then I meet my students and go into the classroom and they throw stuff and spit on me." However, after getting new bitch-be-gone pills, I am going to be neutral. My new motto is: "I used to worry/fret/be sad/get excited/be happy about/etc... but now I take medication for that." I did try to work in my room the other day. I sat at my desk, stared at my bent, previously organized, books on the shelf that got ruined during summer school. I looked up at the falling number line and borders. Then I looked in my desk drawers that were cleaned last spring, but now held balled up papers, confiscated toys, a jar of Slimfast, and a bag of moldy bread (all left by the summer the school teacher), got overwhelmed and went home. It took all morning to get nothing done. It's OK. I'm neutral now. Last year I would be all, "I gotta figure out who was in my room and ask her to not leave 'science experiments' in my desk and to bring her own books for the kids to wreck". But the new me says, "Well, she DID have my old students for summer school. They wrecked the books- they should have known better. A few do always have toys that need to be confiscated, the balls of paper were probably proof of what they throw at her, she had the Slimfast because she needs to lose weight being the kids are driving her to drink which causes weight gain, and the bread? I'm not sure about the bread."
All of my friends have moved on to bigger and better things. We've lost about half the staff. Apparently no one took the whole, "Tell the new school you'll only come if Sara Fairfield can come with" seriously... Oh well. I'm starting the year neutral. I have 20 students, 10 boys and 10 girls with a WIDE range of abilities. I don't have any that are notoriously out of control that I know of yet. I have 3 students that are siblings of previous students, and only one kid dropped (or moved away) after finding out I am his teacher. See there is my neutral.
Along with my new happy pills, my psychiatrist gave me good advice. This is kind-of a big deal, because usually she just looks at me and blinks her big eyes. She said, "Your dad is just not the father you need him to be. He isn't going to say the words you need to hear. He isn't going to do the things you need him to do. You need to re-create...(I kinda stopped listening here because I was thinking of the things I need him to say- she may have said "relationship" or what I'm going with- "father") and you will be able to come to terms with it." So, I'm not sure if she thinks I need a new imaginary friend and call him "dad", or come to terms that my dad likes other people's children and grandchildren better than his own. I going go with the imaginary dad thing for awhile just so my kids have something interesting to write about on that first day of school "Write about your summer vacation" writing assignment. I'm going to set an extra plate at supper for invisible dad, carry on one, and two-sided conversations with imaginary dad, such as, "Well, if it's not my beautiful daughter Sara!" "Hi invisible dad". "I just can't get over how proud I am of the person you've become!" "Gee, thanks imaginary dad". "And those boys, they are the most handsome, best behaved, smartest boys who will succeed at anything they set out to do. And it's all because you are such an outstanding mother." "Thanks invisible dad. I sure hope they have something good to write about on the first day of school." "Well, they could certainly write about how you gladly sacrifice for their happiness every day"... I'll also move the furniture around when they aren't looking and blame it on invisible grandpa. And when Sam barks for no reason, I'll tell him to stop barking at grandpa. I think it's a great plan, and a nice way to wrap up our last few weeks together. Who knows, they might even get an award for their creative writing about their summer vacation. It's a whole lot better than, "I went to camp all summer." or "I played baseball every damn day until the day football started."