The rest of your life is going to be just like high school. That’s what I want to tell my middle school students. Except high school for some can be a nightmare. It breaks some people. I saw this Montel Williams show once where there were middle-aged people on there crying, crying mind you, about things that had happened in high school. People had picked on them, teased them, excluded them, made them feel so bad about themselves that their adult lives reflected the lack of confidence and success that had been born during their teenage years.
For me it’s different. I feel like I was at my very best at 17. I had vision, hope, goodness, goals, dreams. I believed people were basically good inside. I stood up for what I believed in. What others thought of me didn’t matter. I was me and I was good with that. It has taken me until 45 to get back to where I was at 17. And even now I think I am a damaged replica of what I once was. I have sold out to the man. I want things easy, I’m too tired to fight. You fight with kids to get them to do what they are supposed to do so they can be successful. You fight with parents who question what you are doing – either too much or too little. You sit at conferences and say the same thing over and over again. “What can we do for Johnny to help him in your class,” they ask. Well being as four out of seven of his grades are zeroes for not handing things in, I guess I would go with make him do his work. I mean I’m no expert or anything but …. And don’t blame yourself, there’s no way you could know that. It’s not like I post the grades on the internet at least once a week. Or stamp in giant letters, “No ELA homework submitted,” in his agenda. Or send home interim reports and report cards. It’s not like it’s a transparent process. I can see how the whole thing is just an enigma to you …..
But of course I don’t say that. I smile politely and swallow their sincerity and knit my eyebrows as if to say “What can we do…..hmmmmm…..” and then I hatch the brilliant plan of making him do his homework. I don’t know why I haven’t gotten Teacher of the Year Award yet. Or maybe the Academy Award.
In any case, the clarity and direction and spirituality I had at 17 were somehow compromised or at the very least complicated by things like jobs and mortgages and what people think. There is a fine line between having awareness of others so you are not self-absorbed and being so aware of others it controls your every move.
At 40 I became almost obnoxious. I’d be telling my mom and dad a story about some injustice and my mom would always hint that I should just swallow it and be the bigger person. And I would say something like, “yeah you’re right, Mom. I should just pray for them and let them get away with this and basically be a doormat… But wait, I’m 40 now! I almost forgot! I’m not putting up with any BS anymore!”
I am trying to be as spiritual as my mother but….Well, I believe the 3 most important things are Faith, Love, and Health (or at least strong coffee.) Wordsworth was right, child is the father of man.