Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thankless

I don't feel like telling Stella that Valentine's Day is over. Would you?


I'm a teacher. I'm a mom. Both jobs are described as "thankless." Both jobs can feel that way sometimes.

That moment when you ask the students to create a play in small groups - little skits to show why people joined certain movements in the '60's. A way of responding to an article that seems more interesting than "write a summary." Yet the kids squander the time, very few finish, and many proclaim, "This is stupid!"

The students are sad that a teacher quit mid-year. They internalize it and get upset. So you give them a quick pep talk about how much you love working with them, how amazing you think they are, how you brag on them all the time. And a girl says, "Well, why do you constantly get on our butts about everything then?"

You put your infant in the exersaucer to make dinner - some rice and teriyaki chicken. The baby fusses the whole time, you feel rushed and stressed, but you want to make a nice dinner for your family. You set it out and your daughter says, "I HATE teriyaki chicken!"

Your baby is tired. So you change his clothes to get him ready for bed. He screams and cries and kicks and pinches you the whole time out of frustration.

Your daughter asks to watch TV. You say OK, both as a reward for doing a nice job on something as a way of keeping her entertained while you make dinner (see above). When the show is over, you ask her to turn it off. She yells at you about how unfair it is that she NEVER gets to watch TV.

So then you have a choice. You can wallow. You can feel sorry for yourself. You can wonder why on earth you chose these two thankless professions. Or you can switch your focus.

Think about that one amazing student - the one who pushes himself to succeed, despite many setbacks and personal challenges. Think about how he's read every book in the library and is thirsting for more. Think about how grateful he looked when you handed him some short stories by Philip K. Dick that came from your home library.

Think about how when the students asked who their new teacher was going to be, you joked, "Me. I'm going to teach all your subjects from now all" Think about how that one kid said, "Yay! You're my favorite teacher! I'd love that!"

Think about how many kids show your their writing between classes - stuff that's not required, not for a grade, stuff they wrote because you helped them discover that love of writing.

Think about your baby and that contented sigh he makes after gets his first taste of mother's milk when you come to pick him up from daycare.

Think about the ever-growing number of beautiful valentines your daughter makes you - even though Valentine's Day is over.

Think about how your daughter tells you she loves you every single day. Multiple times a day.

Think about how your husband just packed your lunch for tomorrow.

Think about the lullaby your daughter wrote in the car when the baby cried.

I love water parks.
There's so much you can do.
But I don't love water parks
As much I love you.
I love you Sammy.
I love you Sammy.

And you realize you get plenty of thanks. Just not always in the form of a "thank you."

1 comment:

judy skaggs said...

I am crying & thanking God you know this....Bless you & your "Wonderful Life"