Empathy adjustments.

This week is a little less defeating so far. I took tomorrow off so I would have enough time to finish this big assignment I’m working on. That’s what sick days are for, right? Doing homework for grad school? I putzed around for too long at school, typing intricate directions, locking away anything moveable/breakable/mess-upable. I can tell my spirit is not completely broken because of the needling anxiety that still comes before taking a day off. Are they going to behave themselves? Is my dwindling supply of viable pencils going to be completely depleted?

Ms. K, last time you had a sub she was mean. She didn’t know how to say the words in Spanish, and when we tried to tell her she told us to shut up and put our heads down. She said to put our back on the back of our chair and still put our heads down, but that doesn’t even work.

I was tempted to just suck it up and work anyway, partially because it takes forever to explain to someone else the details of what I do for 8 hours a day, but partially because I really do miss the kids when I’m gone. Last week was hell. This week the chaos is tempered with some miniature breakthroughs in fluency and even more so in classroom routines. It’s funny how much of my classroom stress can be eliminated by well-executed classroom job assignments. My haphazard attendance process was solved this week – I simply assigned kids to do it. The kids vie for the coveted job in a frenzied competition of who can be the most quiet and attentive. God, what a peaceful game.

Most of the 1st grade class today was spent doing damage control, because two kids had total weeping meltdowns after they got their names moved to yellow for talking. Oh, the horror. I demonstrated my newfound immunity to small children’s tears and looked right into those big teary brown eyes. (This is the emotional equivalent of standing in front of a speeding train, if horsepower is to be measured by adorable distress.) “Did your leg fall off? Are you bleeding? Did your dog die?” I said. (Head-shake, sniffle sniffle snot.) “Moving your name to yellow is not a good reason to be crying for 20 minutes. If your leg falls off, you feel free to cry like that.”

Another tiny girl got up, hand on hip, and said in a purportedly comforting tone “And if your dog dies, you just feel free to cry!”

I’m sorry kiddos. I am still learning these lessons, too. I think after difficult mornings with the middle schoolers or on crushing Sunday nights staring at the ceiling I need a stern voice and a raised eyebrow.

Did your dog die? Did your arm fall off? Did you lose your job? Okay then, do you really need to get this worked up about things?


One Response to Empathy adjustments.

  1. chelsea says:

    so true. i will remind myself of this often. ❤

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