This quote turned up on a friend's FB page as I scrolled through my news feed and I thought it was just perfect, perfect message and perfectly timed. . . for me anyway. It made me smile, and it helped me to realize, I have come a long way from three years ago. I began writing this morning, but it was getting a bit long. I was beginning to get bogged down in an old familiar suffering, then I just set it aside, and got on with my day. So now I sit again, to try and convey a feeling from this morning that started me writing after a two week break. Hopefully, with this quote to remind me, I can let go a bit more.
Our local bi-monthly publication is only about 24 pages and is filled with the usual "local news", happenings at the library, and local churches, mixed with occasional school or historical stories as well as fire and police updates. My husband mentioned it had arrived as well as who was front page news, but we were away for a while and have had a busy start to summer, and I didn't really think I wanted to read it. This morning is snagged my eye, but I didn't feel the usual shortness of breath, and steam puffing out my ears from my rage at the mere mention of the name, I just feel the echo of a sad, sick feeling in my stomach and heart. So I read about a local second grade teacher retiring this year. She is a beloved teacher as can be discerned by the opening line,
"If you were lucky enough to have had a child in one of MJ's classes, then you will understand my disappointment when I discovered that my second child would not get a chance to have her as a teacher this coming fall."She's just not beloved by me, particularly, though she held some teacher qualities that I can admire in retrospect, particularly her passion for science and hands on experiential learning (kids never get enough of that) I don't think I will ever quite grasp the 'love thy enemy' philosophy. I am truly sad to say that I could even think of another teacher as an enemy to begin with, but that is the crux of it. It was the impetus for my beginning this blog four years ago, to sort through my strong feelings over my son's nightmarish school experiences and the fact that I am also a teacher in my heart and soul. So I suppose my very positive thinking friends would advise me to notice that a very bad experience with this teacher led to something good, great, wonderful, in the birth of my writing self . .and of course they would be right :)
When I mention that I found the note of her love for teaching social justice ironic, I will do so not out of mean spirit, because my son suffered by her "fair is equal" mentality. It no longer makes me angry to think of that, just sad that an opportunity to teach the children a more compassionate meaning for fairness was lost. MJ once told me that the children would not think it fair if she did something/anything different for my son than she does for the other children, and that the children were very concerned with fairness at this age. Rather than let them rule with their idea of fairness, wouldn't it have been lovely if she pointed out to the students. . . If everyone in the class gets new winter boots to go with their coats, that may seem fair at first glance, yes? However, if one or two kids already have new winter boots, but have no winter coat, that fairness is clearly lost. I have learned from my son's experiences that fair is not about everyone getting the same thing, it is about making sure each child has what they need. And a classroom is not a place to let stagnant ideas rest, it is a place to stretch ideas, to grow them and teach.
Of course, noone is perfect, including myself. We are all different, with different stories that make up the fabric of our lives. I can wonder now, if it were another year, when her mother wasn't dying, her husband wasn't diagnosed with cancer, and all disjointedness of a schoolyear that goes along with all that, would our story; mine, hers, my son's, have been a different one. But frankly, that was only a flicker of a thought and I let it go along with the fiery anger and angst that filled me back then and I am moving further forward into the unknown with love in my heart for the lessons learned during that time.
**This is where I came from 3-4 years ago if you are a curious reader: http://parentingandpedagogy.blogspot.com/2012/03/parenting-stress-mourning-dream.html