Oh, Comely

Yesterday during our prep hour my coteacher and I were distracted by photos and footage trickling over from Japan. The tragedy hasn’t hit close enough to be personal – the Japanese student I worked with last year emailed me back right away to reassure me – but even secondhand the destruction is beyond comprehension.

At the end of the school day I left the apocalyptic news stories and went to a staff meeting where we were informed of a pay cut for all teachers at my school. We lost all retirement benefits a few months ago, and two staff members were laid off abruptly, and along with the current pay cut we were given a dire picture of what might happen next year, if the state-wide funding gets slashed as promised.

Michigan

Things are looking dire here in the ol Dirty Glove.

I’ve certainly toyed with the idea of moving away from my home state, but I always thought it would be by choice and not by necessity. As rough as things have been for years, this is the first time I have felt despair for my state. Even if I can make a living here, I am not sure if I’d want to stay and raise a family here. There is still a good chance I’ll be teaching in Spain for the coming school year (keep yer fingers crossed!) but I’m apprehensive about what I’ll be coming home to.

The uncertainty and anxiety of current events at home and abroad has made me cranky at times, and this week my students have been the (mostly) innocent victims. I apologized to my middle schoolers for snapping at them yesterday. More than anything I want to be strong and loving to my kids, because lord knows it’s hard enough for us adults to remain hopeful and feeling secure.

When you come down to it, I am alive and well – I can still pay rent and pay my bills, and no amount of pay cuts can devalue my good fortune. My family is alive, my home is intact, my city is not on fire or submerged or steeped in radiation. I am forging on into my (underpaid/overworked) career that I care deeply about.

So on a much happier note, some of the things that have been making me smile – and things which will have to make up for where my pay check is lacking:

Señorita es bonita, muy baja, y muy muy vieja. (8th grader)

I’m sorry I was on the floor in soup. (Apology from a penitent 2nd grader)

Kindness = Vulture letting hyena share carrion. (Definition from a 4th grader)

On Ash Wednesday they celebrate Thanks-Giving-Up! (Clever 4th grader)

Llamas are stronger than people, and the police. (Concerned Kindergartner)

You mean Mexicans’ booty holes don’t be on fire?? (A 7th grader’s musings on tolerance for spicy foods – more hilarious because it was such a genuine inquiry)

Um, I think this music is too funky for school. (4th grade music critic)

I like smelling his hair because it smells like cupcakes. (Kindergartner with major friend-crush on a classmate)

Kindergartner: Why do so many things have patterns?
Me: Like what?
Kid: Like bees… and giraffes… and zebras…
Other kid: And black ‘n’ yellow, black ‘n’ yellow!

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