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Lately I’ve been feeling like a junkie. I’m going through withdrawls especially after detoxing for the last 5 months. I’ve got the August Itch – anxiety, nervousness, the sweats, trouble sleeping. I need my poison. I need to get back to my classroom.
Every August around this time, I look forward to preparing for a new school year. It’s like New Year’s Eve and the first day of school is one big party. The smell of new crayons, sharpened pencils, freshly waxed floors, brightly decorated walls, and scared new faces. It’s my high.
This year is different. There’s no direction. No leadership. No answers. It is August 25th and yet we have no plan. Dates are pushed back and changed all to often, one day it’s safe, the other day it’s not. Some say they’re cleaning the schools, although others would beg to differ. Teachers, students, and families are terribly confused. It’s a complete wait and see game. “We will tell you the night before when to show up and tell you what to do and how to do it. By the way, here’s a 30 day supply of PPE. And if you don’t like it, you can start writing your resignation letter now.”
True Story. But let’s not get too political here. It’s for the kids.
If any one knows teachers, this is not the way we work. We like to plan ahead, WAY ahead. Planners and organizers, we can’t get enough of them. Name tags written out with fresh new sharpies, class lists studied, seating charts mapped out like a football play book. Working tiredlessly through the nights preceding the first week of school, mastering plans and ice breakers so they roll out seamlessly. But, it’s understandable, we need to be flexible, right?
I’m stuck in limbo. Do I go in to set up, or will I be bringing my classroom home? How many kids will I have? Who will be learning virtually and who will be in my presence, if there’s even an in person option? Do I buy school supplies or do I stock up on more leggings? I got the itch real bad. I miss my colleagues, I miss my classroom, I miss performing everyday, but mostly I miss our kids. The last I stepped into my classroom was sometime in April to grab a few materials. It was like time stood still, tumble weeds rolled around like an old western film. It hurt my heart to be there. I left with a glimmer of hope knowing I’d be back in no time. Nope, no shot.
I just want to go in. Let me at it! Give me my drug, I want it, I need it. Let’s get this party started. Toss the computers! Immerse them in books, drill them with math facts, write some poetry, play jumprope at recess. Give them a damn hug. Whether we are distance learning or going back into the classroom, I’m going in full force, better, and stronger than ever. I will overdose on school if I need to.
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Full Disclosure: Total rant post right here.
I always knew what it was in the back of mind, but today validated everything I ever thought about Male Privledge. It must be nice to tell a woman to “fuck off”, and not think twice about it. You see, I always was raised to treat people with decency and respect, regardless of who they are. Not to demean them, especially in public. My mama taught me right. And so did my father.
Today, on my way to tutoring a child, I was pulling out of the gas station where I had stopped to purchase an ice cream treat for her. She has been doing well with her multiplication facts and I felt she deserved a little reward. As I continue out of the gas station, what I thought was a friendly gentleman, waves at me to pass. Well, I guess I mistook his kind gesture for something else? I am still cluless and I keep replaying what I did wrong in my head. I pass in front of him while trying to take a left onto the main road. I suddenly hear vicious horn wailing, a series of beeps, and vulger language coming from the “gentleman’s truck” behind me, followed with a few hand gestures. (He must be Itailian too). It took a second, but I realized he’s angry at me. I couldn’t have taken that left fast enough for him. I can see he wanted to turn right, so I kept inching my car into the main road, giving him space to pass to the right of me. Spiteful me would have just sat there and made him wait.
He would not let up on his horn and F bombs. One would have thought I robbed him.
He must have been in such a hurry this Tuesday morning. The belligerent language directed at me, his mom would be ashamed. Over a traffic issue. 100% gauarenteed, on my life, if I was another man, that incident would not have occured.
What did I want to do? I wanted to get out of my car and kick his door in. I WANTED to say, “You fucking asshole, what is your fucking problem? You can’t let people by then take it back you piece of shit! You just want me to pull out into traffic and die all because you’re in a fucking hurry you scumbag! Go kiss your mom with that mouth you douche bag with mommy issues, you fuckface bastard!” Yeah, that would have showed him!!
The North Providence Italian girl in me will never leave, but I have learned to be patient with people and take it for what it’s worth. I normally don’t let people get away with that kind of banter and I usually put them in their place. But I wanted to get to my tutoring job safely, and come home to my kids alive. My question is, why do I have to take this crap in the first place? Why put up with bullshit? Why should I always be submissive to the ridicule of men, especially white men? I always admit when I’m wrong, I don’t have a problem with that, but I am NOT going to let someone think I’m wrong when I’m not. It has to STOP. And even when I am wrong, it’s still no excuse to treat someone that way.
It must be nice for men to walk around with thier balls out thinking they can speak and act however they’d like, espcially towards women. I am someone’s wife. I am someone’s mother. I am someone’s daughter. Would they talk to thier mother, wife, or daughter that way? And if they saw thier own loved ones being mistreated, what would they do? Would they even care?
I am tired. I am tired of being made to feel inferior. I am tired of being spoken to, like I live in some region in the middle east where women are not treated as equal partners. I am tired of being submissive. I am tired of having to speak up and defend myself. I’m tired of competing. I’m tired of being told to stand still and look pretty. I’m tired of being made to feel like shit. I am tired of thinking I’m stupid and unworthy. I am tired of men. They have such a privledge that they will never understand.
And to the man in the truck, I hope it was all worth it.
PS. Sorry to the men out there who this doesn’t represent. You know who you are
We’ve all been there. We’ve all done it. We are all too busy, forgetful, we are procrastinators. You know, you bump into that old friend at the market or a family member at the next wedding or funeral, and you say, “Let’s get together sometime.” While the intentions are genuine, that “sometime” is still lurking around somewhere, and you never get together. Fast forward one year later, and you bump into each other, Scolding yourself in your mind, “Crap, we never got together. You are such a horrible person,” Then REPEAT.
When you’re younger, you are wild and free, big dreams and hopes loom over your head. Everyone has a vision. Mine was to be married, to have a career, 2 plus children, and the white picket fence scenario. I was going to be close to my high school friends and we were going to get married together, our children would grow up to be best friends, we would go on couple double dates and family vacations. In the 14 years I’ve been married, I can probably count on 2 hands how many times any of those things happened.
Even with family, I only see them at weddings, birthday parties, and funerals. We try to catch up on a lifetime of moments in a matter of 2 hours. We let emotions overtake us because we truly miss them, we want to learn more, we want that connection, so the infamous words roll out, “Let’s get together sometime.”
I hate it. I feel like such a dissapointment when I see that friend again and we never got together. What does it take to pick up the phone? What does it take to just pencil someone in?
I went to 3 wakes this week. I regretted not seeing that person one last time. Granted, they were older, natural causes took its toll. But I knew it was inevitable, I knew I’d probably never see them again according to the state of condition they were in. They were good people. They were good to my family. They were good to my children. They deserved a visit. They deserved at least a card to know I was thinking about them. Life is so precious, we need to get together. You never know what the next day will bring. The last thing I would want is for someone to leave my funeral and say, “She looked good.” I want them to say, “I am so glad I was able to see her one last time, or talk to her before she passed.”
I hope you all can pick up the phone, and call that person you bumped into at the market, or that family member you shared a drink with at the last wedding. Don’t wait until it’s too late. The last thing anyone wants is to leave the party only to hear, “They looked good.”
We are all busy, we will always be busy, but it’s not an excuse to keep us disconnected with the ones we love. It’s a little white lie we tell ourselves to excuse our behavior.
Pick up the phone, call your person, what do you have to lose?
ACT 1 Anxiety sets in, cue Clark Griswold
Scene 1: Friend: We should take the kids to New Hampshire one weekend this summer.
Me: Yeah that would be fun! (Inside me: OMG, this can go really bad or very good, no telling. My friend is going to hate us.)
Me and Friend make plans to drive up to New Hampshire with our families and enjoy the great outdoors, get away from it all.
Scene 2: Cringe. Leaving the dog with a dog sitter I never met before. She was not very rainbows and sparkles. Kids are crying, they have that gut feeling he is going to doggie heaven. You know what they say about kids, they have very good intuitions when something doesn’t seem right. Me driving away trying to calm them down, meanwhile my inner self is, “Bitch, I better get my dog back in the condition we left him in.”
Scene 3: Mentally prepping for the 4 hour ride.
Scene 4: Stop at the first liqour store once we cross the border. Fast forward $239 later, we are good shape for a while.
Scene 5: Are we there yet?
Scene 6: Destination reached, lunch served. Outdoor dining was beautiful, but surrounded by a plethora of flowers. Guess who loves flowers? BEES. Guess who hates bees? KIDS. Multiple scenes made in the restuarant by kids jumping at the pure sight of a bee, but the 2 glasses of pinot I drank helped make it less deafening for me. Maybe not for the poor patrons around us. Who the hell needs all those flowers outside in the dining area? Seriously!
Scene 7: Stop at a candy store. Spent $30 on gummies and shit I could have bought at the dollar store for less than $5. It’s the experience right? But those red licorice shoeslaces, OMG! I haven’t had those since I was a kid.
Scene 8: Stop at a local swimming creek, scouting for bears and googling what to do in case we get charged at. Water was refreshing, one kid almost got swept away, rescue mission successful. Thanks to my husband, 2 kids saved and someone’s croc. Enter scene: Rain. Big drops of rain. Mountain rain. Kids were okay with it though. I mean they were already wet. Mom, dad, and friends stand under a tree covering ourselves with towels while the kids enjoy themselves. Walk back to the car soaked.
Scene 9: Hotel. Mix up with the reservations. Slight moment there when we thought we had to rough it in the car because “There’s no more rooms in the valley” according to our ever so curteous desk clerk. Luckily it was straighted out and we got the “last room” available supposedly.
ACT 2 Note: In all scenes and in between, we are wearing masks and trying to stay far away from others, hoping not to bring The Rona back home. Masks in 90 degree weather.
Scene 10: Next day head up to Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park. $29 a person. As I prdicted, the 8 year old chickened out on every ride. The rides were not scary at all, I mean 4 year olds went on them. My kid however is afraid of her own shadow. Imagine what it was like taking her to Disney last year and loosing multiple Fast Passes because of her. Good times. Thank God Disney was so accomodating.
Scene 11: After enjoying the adventure park, we continue to the ski lift which takes you up the mountain for a scenic view and there’s alcohol up there! The 8 year old proceeds to scream and run away from me as I try to force her on. Not even ice cream could entice her. People are staring, wondering if I am her mom or her kidnapper. I yell, “You have no choice!” Friend continues to make that the quote of the weekend.
Scene 12: Another swimming creek. Enjoying my kids making memories with their friends. The whole time I’m thinking, I never got to do this when I was a kid. Happy moment and grateful they get to have this experience. Because parenting is about giving your kids the experiences you never had, right?
Scene 13: Next day, planned on visiting the outlets to do a little shopping, maybe some “mom time”. Nope. Can’t shop in peace. Cue the kids, “Can we go to another store?” So I bring them to the stores of their preference, then I hop in the car and head home, irritated and empty handed.
Scene 14: I could not get home fast enough. Husband was driving. He will drive in an empty 4 lane highway with one person in fromt of him and won’t think to switch lanes. I on the other hand, like to play this game called, “Beat the GPS.” I shaved off a few minutes, yes, and proud of it.
Scene 15: Pick up the dog, inspecting him all over, hoping Cruella didn’t give me another dog and play it off as my Otis, looking for painted marks, or scarring. He did smell awful but he was in one piece so I decide to be kind and thank her for her service.
Scene 16: My home. My shower. My couch. My bed. My memories made. And my friend is still talking to me.
145 Days. It’s been 145 days since March 13th. That is almost a whole school year. March 13th, preparing my students for the worst but hoping for the best, because I knew it was coming. My principal, at the school I teach in, begins his announcement over the speaker. He never makes announcements unless it’s really important. Cue. “Boys and girls, before you leave today, please take all your personal belongings home with you. Your teacher will give you your computer to take home. We will not be returning to school at least for a couple of weeks.” Boom, and just like that chaos erupted. Like during the Cold War when the sirens went off and it was a “duck and cover” drill or something. A couple of weeks led to a couple of months. A couple of months led to the rest of the school year. All of us diligently planning, learning as we go, and surviving.
145 days of being home with my 2 girls and a dog. 145 days of worry. 145 days of refereeing. 145 days of making macaroni and cheese and ramen noodles (which we never even had a package of ramen in this house up until 145 days ago). 145 days of Roblox. 145 days of explaining to my kids why they might not be going back to school. 145 days of yelling at them to pick their wet towels up off the floor. 145 days of letting the dog in and out 100 times a day. 145 days of limiting our adventures outside the home. 145 days of disrupted routine. 145 days of grocery bills and utilities rising. 145 days explaining to my husband how my day went. 145 days without any normalcy.
But I need to thank COVID at least for one thing. I need to thank COVID for those 145 days where I literally witnessed my children grow. 145 days of hearing their laughter. 145 of being their personal teacher. 145 days of more movie nights. 145 days of slime making and crafting. I am taking the bad with the good and I will always appreciate these 145 days of time well spent. I learned a lot through these 145 days. I learned to have patience. I learned I am actually less stressed. I learned a lot about my kids and who they are. And a lot about myself.
At the start of my career, I was a substitute teacher working on my Masters degree in Special Education, working my ass off to a get a full time teaching position, with benefits. In the meantime, my children were babies. I had to wait tables to supplement the income, because subbing alone wasn’t cutting it. I lost a lot of time with my babies. Now my girls are 8 and 10, not babies anymore, and granted, the days are far from easy around here, but I’m so glad to be making up for that lost time. So thank you COVID for the 145 days.
The other day, I was at Dick’s Sporting Goods (Anyone else hate the name of that store? My kids chuckle everytime I say it.) I was waiting patiently in line to purchase my items, making sure to follow the 6 feet apart policy. I notice a woman pushing her cart, almost hesitant to walk in front of me. I can see she wants to get around me through the tight quarters. She politely squeaked out an “excuse me,” because she needed to get behind me in line. She apologized for walking in front of me, explaining she didn’t want me to think she was cutting the line. The woman looked so scared, like I was going to lash out at her. I of course happily moved over so she could get in line with her cart, and I then told her there was no need to apologize. She looked like a frightened kitten. Then she proceeds to tell me how nice I am and how people are so mean lately. All the while, I’m thinking, “Lady, all I did was let you by.” Afterwards, we had a quick friendly conversation talking about the impurities going on in the world right now while we were waiting to check out, PATIENTLY.
This just tugged at me, and I thought about this nice woman all day because I too have been encountering the same experiences as she. It was eerily relatable. My question is, what’s wrong with people? What did someone say or do this poor woman to condition her in being afraid of me or others? I mean, I know I don’t look very approacable, so maybe that was it? 🙂
Rememeber 9/11 during the “Never Forget” days. We stood united. People were nice to each other. Complete strangers helped other strangers without expecting anything in return. There were lines at the blood banks, men and women enlisted in the military to defend our country, divorced couples got back together, and we held our friends and family a little tighter during those days. THAT’S when we were all indeed in this together. The good old days when we showed kindness. It took a tragedy like 9/11 to make us realize what’s important.
Fast forward almost 19 years later, and we could not be more divided. A very different tragedy has blindsided us. But we rise up, right? Not exactly, not this time. People have their own agenda. They are all in a race to be first, in a rush to go nowhere, they want to be better than you, they make their own rules now and they pick who gets to play on their team. You look at someone the wrong way accidently, and you get mean mugged. People walk around in the markets like total zombies, with these pretentious smugs underneath those masks, even though covered, we can see right through. And since when are we all entilted to something? Did I miss the entitlement memo? Of course, this is nothing new. It existed in the post 9/11 days up until the pre-COVID era. But now my friends, 2020 has unleashed a fury in people like no other.
What does it take to be a decent person nowadays? It doesn’t cost a thing. What happened to “Please” and “Thank You?’ It almost kills some to even utter it. Why are people so mean? I’m sure most of you weren’t raised that way. What would your mother think!! What legacy will you leave when your time is up? Let that sink in a little. Because the last time I checked, no matter how much better you think you are than others, all our graves are going to be the same size in the end. Also the last time I checked, you are entitled to NOTHING. You are entiltled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Anything else, well, we need to put our big boy and big girl pants on and work for it.
So don’t be the person that makes others fearfull or intimidated. Be the person, be the reason why someone smiles today.
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