Thursday, August 23, 2007

"as life gets longer, awful feels softer"

I'd forgotten how mean girls can be. I've never understood it. Never was a tomboy in the strictest sense but even if I had several girl friends my best friends were usually boys when I was a kid. Sure, I harbored the usual girly princess fantasies but I also liked climbing in trees and playing GI Joe. I hated the cliques and the way that the middle school girls judged me. Boys weren't so high maintenance. In 6th grade I had girls calling me a bitch when I didn't even know their names. It has been long enough that I'd forgotten all that pettiness and just how much it hurts. But now I'm seeing new versions of those same girls doing the same things right in front of me. Wherever you're from, middle school girls can be incredibly cruel. Boys will threaten and boast and act like jerks but not really believe that they are doing any permanent harm. Girls go straight for your most vulnerable parts and tear you to shreds with aim to destroy. Everything is personal and harsh.

This is the worst kind of generalization. But that's pretty much what today felt like.

I'm supposed to be writing my math test right now and I just can't focus. I stayed up way way way too late finishing Harry Potter #7 last night and now I've just got to push through and get through one more day of the week before I can at least take a breather even if it is not a real break. My weekends are a joke these days.

One of my kids, the last to leave every day, asked me if I really do work everyday. When the class started complaining about homework on Fridays I told them that their complaints wouldn't change my mind, after all I work seven days a week. So when JR asked, I said yes. He asked me if I had another job or if I spent the weekends planning for school and I told him that I was planning, that the job is tougher than it might seem from the other side. He told me about his mother who works three jobs just to pay the rent and the electric bill. All I could do was say that yes, life is very expensive here now and that can be difficult. I know that wasn't enough but these small windows into my students' heads are both gifts and heart breakers. After three weeks on the job, I can hardly call myself experienced but I already feel a few years older just listening to the snippets they give me.

You want to keep them safe. You want to undamage them. But there is only so much anyone can do. So you just keep going on doing what you can and hope that it is enough to get them safely to the point at which you have to let them go and hope someone else will be there to catch them.

1 comment:

Iamura said...

My heart goes out to you. I wish you the best of luck helping these kids.