Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Curious Lament of a Former Second Grade Teacher


The timing was perfect.  I was 56 and looking toward retirement but not yet ready, either physically, emotionally, or monetarily.  I’d moved to Atlanta for a high-falutin job with the Georgia Department of Education, one that I soon realized I was nowhere near suited for.  I’d been toying with the idea of returning to teaching children before I retired but wasn’t sure how to navigate the complicated public-school teacher market in a city as large at Atlanta.

Long story short, I got a job teaching second-grade in a wonderful school in the ritzy Atlanta area known as Buckhead.  And it was love as soon as the little gap-toothed wonders walked in the door on that first day of school and that love grew throughout the year.   I loved their bed heads, their slurpy pre-brace gap expanders, their need to wear shorts in winter, their burgeoning senses of humor, self, and the rule of law, and their robust bravados.

Those second graders were a perfect balm to my empty nest and solitary lifestyle.  I laughed at them and they laughed at me and we laughed at ourselves.  I worried about them and became irritated by them, but loved them nonetheless.

AND THEY LOVED ME BACK!!!!  They thought I was funny and wise and could move small mountains (or at least the bookcase their pencil had somehow ended up behind ).  We had a great year and at the end of it, we were sad and some of us cried because there would never be a year like this one and no teacher could ever love her students like I did and my students were going to be so sad next year away from me.  I felt a bit sorry for their new teachers who would certainly pale in comparison to me.

Then came summer break and a whole new class.  I loved them too and they loved me back, and my last-year students still loved me and they would stop by my door when they could to tell me how much they missed me and that third grade just wasn't as good as second grade.

That lasted about a month.

True, my new students thought I was great and I thought the same about them, but my last year students weren’t coming by as often and, when they did, they no longer looked quite so sad.  In fact, they looked alarmingly happy.

And it got worse.  As the years wore on and that first class became older and with bigger feet and straight teeth, the more they seemed to treat me like a somewhat embarrassing aunt.  Like they were afraid I might want to pinch them on the cheek and talk about how much they’d grown.  They were always polite and sometimes warm but with an air of being late for an important appointment.  And when I WAS able to truly engage them they didn't seem to recall our best jokes or our most memorable times.  

I've gotten over it.  I'm fine.  Those students in my first post-menopausal class are now college Freshmen.

I wonder if I should warn their English 101 professors.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bossy Pants

Me Showing Joe the Correct Place to Look at the Eclipse

Joe calls me Bossy Pants, which, by the way, he totally stole from Tina Fey. 

I am a bit bossy.  This comes from a combination of two things: 1. I was divorced for twenty-two years, which is a lot of years to be in charge of myself and my surroundings and where I put things (in logical places) and how I do things (the correct way). 
2. Joes needs to be bossed.  He has pretty much had a woman in charge of him all his life – his mother, then his wife, Mary, now me.  Even his daughter, Meghan and his granddaughters, Lilly and Elle, offer guidance of the female kind when needed (which is often).  The one time Joe was out from under the hand of a woman was the year he lived in France as a senior in college, the year he pretty much just drank cheap wine, smoked rank cigarettes, hung around in Spain, and didn’t manage to graduate – at least for a while. 

And then there is the number of secretaries Joe had during his working years – all of whom were female (and quite bossy).  I have a theory about what’s wrong with our world currently and it has to do computers taking the place of secretaries.  Although Alexa can foresee and even intervene in a manner timely enough to forestall or at least reduce some othe chaos inherent in the male DNA, so far she can’t seem to discern if their flies are open.

Don’t get me wrong.  Joe is a very smart man.  He does well hollering out the answers on Jeopardy, although he often forgets to put the answer in the form of a question, something I point out to him each time.  He beats me at ALL card games, but I’m pretty sure he cheats.  He even wins at Scrabble and I’m supposed to be the WORD PERSON.  In addition, Joe completes the demanding New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle while I struggle with the just shall we say less demanding Monday one.

But, alas, the man can’t manage to remember an appointment or find a band-aid or close a drawer.  

Part of the reason I’m (somewhat) bossy is that I am the family mapper-outer when Joe and I take our drives.  Joe does the steering and the gas pedaling about 99.9% percent of the time because my eyeballs and my nerves just aren’t up for the job anymore, especially in Atlanta.  But because we use Google maps and Siri for much of our navigation and because Joe doesn’t listen to Siri any better than he listens to me, I must constantly (and gently I might add) let him know where to go (left right here!),  when to turn (now!), and how fast to drive (*#!* slow down!) When I comment on Joe’s driving, he retorts with “I’m an excellent driver", something he totally stole from Raymond Babbitt.  

When we went to Ireland, Joe drove and, yes, he did “an excellent job”.  However, driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of very narrow roads necessitated much help from me.  My main job was to yell “curb!” at the appropriate times, and, believe me, there were MANY appropriate times. 
Joe driving on the Wrong Side of the Road
 Ok, since maybe I need to agree with Joe that I just might be a bit of a bossy pants, I'm going to try to mend my ways.  And I'll start as soon as I let him know it's time for him to water the grass and then take out the trash after he closes that drawer in the bathroom, and to remind him to check his fly.

Somebody's gotta do it.

The Curious Lament of a Former Second Grade Teacher

  The timing was perfect.   I was 56 and looking toward retirement but not yet ready, either physically, emotionally, or moneta...