Thursday, July 7, 2016

Classic Avoidance Procedures

All school year I work with incredibly bright, caring, and respectful 6th graders. They are truly the cream of the crop. By mid-October, we have a true understanding of each other. I understand not to give them homework over the weekend because it simply won't get done, and they understand not to talk to me each morning until I finish my cup of coffee. I understand that I need to repeat directions half a dozen times in order to have hopes that the assignment will be done correctly, and they understand not to show me their wiggly, loose teeth or any signs of blood. I understand that all learning from 5th grade vanishes from their heads over the summer and we're basically starting from scratch, and they understand that I need to be holding my stress ball when they tell me they didn't complete the homework because of a baseball game the night before. This mutual understanding takes hard work and patience, but it's certainly worth it to have a successful school year. As a result, I enjoy my job and look forward to waking up each school day and seeing these youngsters' eager faces.

The same is not true of random children I see on the street. No, I don't look forward to seeing a baby in a stroller that is taking up 2/3 of the sidewalk. I don't enjoy reading in a park that is infested with 8 year olds playing within inches of my body. Nothing can be worse than hearing a strange child whine at their parent...and then hear the parent give in to the child's demands. Living on the seacoast, a prime touristy spot in the summer, I am surrounded by the younger generation on a daily basis. I've seen fingers shoved so far up a nose that you'd think surgery would be required to dislodge the digits. I've seen toddlers playing on iphones at a nice restaurant, while the parents sit across from each other, depressed, speechless, and distracted. I've heard children crying because they didn't want to go in the water, then crying because the water was too cold, then crying when it was time to come out of the water. It's July, and by now I've surpassed my limit on time I can spend with people under 18.

Because of this bombardment of young people, and worse--their parents, I've developed several strategies to cope over the summer months. First, when I enter a restaurant, I now directly tell the host or hostess that I cannot sit near a family. If I am placed near a family anyway, I look slowly at the family, make eye contact with the children, then look back at the host and ask for a new table. If I am sitting in a park and a family approaches, opens their blanket, and settles near me, I sigh deeply, roll my eyes, and move 20 feet to the left. If I need to take public transportation and I enter a subway filled with school aged kids headed downtown for the afternoon, I silently turn around and get right off the train. I would rather wait 20 minutes for the next subway than take one filled with teenagers singing, "I Took a Pill in Ibiza" off-pitch for the entire 15 minute ride. These precautions are necessary. I am storing up my patience, gathering more each day and saving it for September. At that time, I'll need to smile and say, "Sure you can go back to your locker in the middle of class," and "I would love to attend another meeting about this," or "We took notes on this yesterday, remember?" Until then, I'll bide my time in a child-free zone, blocking out all sounds of high-pitched voices trying to infiltrate my peace.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer 2016

Loyal Readers,


September through May is a tough time for all of us. It's rough for me because I'm hard at work, molding young minds and thus shaping the future of our country. It's probably even more difficult for you though, because you have to live these nine months every year without an update to this life affirming blog. Well, the wait is over. I'm here to rescue you from the very boredom that is your working life. And, unlike with me each summer, your work life will never really end or even pause until you turn 65 or die--whichever comes first.

So now that the school year has officially come to a close, I have begun my new summertime routine, which is alternating drinking wine outside with binge watching mindless TV.

Here are the details on both:

My backyard seemed quite empty the first day of summer break, so I decided I needed to fix that while sticking to my budget. Since I boycott Walmart (saw too many butt cracks last time I ventured in), I went to Ocean State Job Lot, which seems to be a hell specific to New England. It's filled with meth head employees who regret taking on a part time job to feed their habit. I walked in, not knowing what exactly I was looking for, but I knew I'd recognize it the moment I saw it. And indeed I did. Not even 10 feet into the store, and already my eyes lit up, my mouth watered, and my entire body shook with anticipation. There it was in all its glory--an inflatable swimming pool size 10 feet by 6 feet. I walked over to the colorful box and looked for age restrictions such as "For 5-10 year olds." Much to my delight, there was no age limit, but there was a picture of several children in the pool at the same time. This means the pool would be large enough for multiple people to enjoy the pool party at once. I knew Dylan would be thrilled. (More realistically, I knew I had to get home and inflate it before he would have the chance to tell me to return it.) I checked the price, and immediately made the best $20 purchase of my life. Even better, since I am getting paid my regular teacher salary over the summer, I actually got paid to shop at the devil's store. Now, my backyard is filled with joy. Each day, I pour myself a glass of white wine, grab a book, and head out to bask in the sun in my luxurious swimming pool that the neighbors certainly envy.

The details on my binge TV watching are less thrilling and much more pathetic. I recently came across a youtube channel of TV bloopers and started watching all of the bloopers for each season of The Office. I couldn't stop watching, even after I quietly judged myself, and Dylan joined in by loudly judging me. I then began to re-watch the entire Office series (on season 3 now), and I realized I truly hate Jim. I think he's a creepy stalker. More importantly, one day while I was watching these people move about their cubicles and commiserate over their meaningless jobs, I thought of you, reader, and what your life must be like. Of course, I can't relate, but I did try to put myself in your sensible, appropriate shoes, and it was terrible to imagine. You wake up every morning, drive to the same fluorescent-light filled room, make small talk near the coffee maker, and dread every incoming email. I'm sorry that is your life. I'm truly glad it's not mine.