When I got ready for school today, I began to feel anxious, then more and more anxious as I got closer to work. I haven’t been this anxious in a while. I took a pill. Then I went over their student papers with them. I love going over writing one-on-one, but I am not very good at doing it in a group setting, especially when the students sit without paying much attention, few them listening or asking questions.
In composition, my approach has always been to discuss difficult issues and new ideas so that my students have something to say, something to write about, so that they can begin to read and think critically. But for these kids, the class discussions don’t seem to be helping them. Part of this is my fault because I assigned a very difficult article for them to study and write about. This was before I realized how very unprepared most of them are. So I am doing it, going over writing in class as they seem to need it. I just wish that these students weren’t working on so many different levels.
This may be called hating your job, this dread. Or it may just be a bad day. And I want the money so I should suck it up and keep doing this. And I will I guess, unless they won’t hire me back. I haven’t asked yet, hoping for some soft of windfall, some sack of cash to land in my lap. Which could happen.
The problem is that I care too much. I always do. I always have. I don’t know how to not care. I care so much about what they think and feel. I want them to feel like they are a part of what I’m doing, that we are working together. I’ve never felt comfortable being an authority figure. Because I’m not, not really. No one is. I want them to realize that they should always question their teachers and anyone else in authority. But these kids don’t seem to understand how to do that, or to be interested in why it’s important.
I suppose I should just let it go and be the Teacher. Hey, Teacher. Do we have any homework? Hey, Teacher. How many absences do I have? Hey, Teacher. My grandmother died again last Tuesday. Hey, Teacher. Does this count as a grade?
After church Sunday, I was sitting in the courtyard and this little kid comes toward me, claws out, gnashing his teeth. I gnashed my teeth. We had a very mutual gnashing of teeth. I realized that I must look like a clown with my red head and crazy-colored tunic. He said you’re a scary clown. I loved being a scary clown. I need a scary clown job. Van and I will no doubt gnash again as he is a Velociraptor.
I would do well with little kids, I think; but I would probably say shit or hell or damn or maybe even fuck. Too bad scary clowns can’t say bad words when they’re playing with little children. But they can be all grownup and not give a shit about their little students and never let a shit hell or fuck slip past.
At EFM Monday night I volunteered to do my Spiritual Autobiography even though I wasn’t prepared. I ended up reading a God piece of mine and bawling, barely able to get through it. Perhaps a chink in me has opened and something has crawled in. October does that sometimes, crawls inside me and lowers the blinds. I love it, the increasing dark, its cozy muffled coming winter quiet. I love it, but it is not always good for me.
I reread Lois Duncan’s A Gift of Magic. I haven’t read it in, oh probably thirty-two years. She has changed details to “update” the book. Changing letter to email. Adding in Nintendo. Changing record player to CD player. These were very obvious and glaring. And quite stupid. Sure, kids reading "today" would recognize these things, but they wouldn’t recognize the great formality of the interactions, always “Mr.” Always “father.” No youngster would have any idea what a “citizenship” class is.
Some of the changes I didn’t realize, but the book felt a little off, even though I was amazed at how much I remembered, some of it word for word. When I read the interview in the back of the book, I realized she had made the sisters twins, and made them older, so that young adults would “enjoy” reading about them. I wonder how many authors have done this to books written in the seventies. Imagine if Madeline L‘Engle had changed details in A Wrinkle in Time, published in the early sixties? Hogwash.
I have to go be a bit social now. It may bring me out of my funk. A bit. No use in holing up.