23 March 2009

Put on a happy face

Consider today's post a solicitation for moral support for my wife, who very early this morning marched slowly down the Death Row that is the 26 miles of highway between home and work, at a school in a neighborhood outside Chicago that is beyond underprivileged.

The air around the young teenagers of this town normally courses with a manic energy so desperate that it often devours even the kindliest hand seeking to calm it, which makes every day for my wife a wonderful new adventure.

She's uniquely suited to this job, though, so even on days when she comes home completely spent and incredibly frustrated, the latter is far more often caused by the incompetent administration above her than the special-needs students around her.

Given that this is always the case, you are undoubtedly wondering what brings it all up today. Well, next week is Spring Break at her school, which you may remember from your days as a student being a very happy time.

A Middle School Classroom Before Break: 32 will enter, and while 32 will leave, a couple of them will want to kill the other 30.The reason you remember it being so happy is because you and your classmates had the strength in numbers to just check your brains at the door each morning and spend the rest of the day doing pretty much whatever irritating little time-wasting activity sprang to mind while the frantic teacher was amusingly attempting to capture your attention.

Now that my wife is that teacher, it is no longer funny.

She spent this weekend dreading going back to school like I have never seen before, after her students, who are as a rule very kind and extremely loyal 80% of the time, spent last week acting out for her an unbelievably detailed preview of what they have planned for this week.

The only reason she isn't spending Day 1 (at least) huddled under a blanket coughing and wheezing away the best Fake Germs she can manage is because her lousy, ungrateful hip ate up all her sick days months ago.

Furthermore, her cold-hearted bastard of a husband, seen here hiding for his own safety behind a mysterious blue tube, expressed a curious aversion to unpaid work days.

The cowardly husband, hiding from his just desserts, lobs pronouncements ignorant of reality down to his slave of a wife.So what I need from you, especially if you are a teacher, is some reasons why she should keep showing up to work each day this week, and, if possible, some really good reasons why she shouldn't kill me or make me suffer even a little bit for making her do so.

Keep in mind when suggesting things* that I've already: 1) made her two fun lunches to choose from today; 2) found her some magazines she likes at the library; and 3) told her she could nap guilt-free even longer than usual when she gets home.

Actually, I didn't tell her that last one until now. But my promises of a lazy, super-fun Spring Break have done nothing to shake her steadfast dread or insistence that this will be a week from somewhere below Hell, and that nothing else matters, so I've got to keep raising the stakes.

Or maybe I should quit before she holds out for too much more. I have a feeling it's going to be a long week for all of us.

* Since I'm clearly a saint, feel free to suggest that she work off her stress and anger each day after work by polishing my sneakers (I insist it must be possible!), cooking dinner, or writing blog posts.


unmitigated me said...

Tea and sympathy, D. I have two weeks left, but 6th graders are much easier to handle. Until AFTER break, when the hormones hit all 50 of them in unison.

Midwest Mom said...

Ha! Just wait a month until they're all twitterpated.

I can't comment as a teacher, but as a parent.

Tell your wife that she can get through the week a couple of ways.
1) Bribing the kids with 10 minutes of goof off time for every 50 minutes of solid work they do. Use a timer -- very effective. It gets set back 5 minutes every time someone goofs off. The peer pressure will get them to shape up because all kids in their heart of hearts want free time. (psst. so does your wife!)

2) Whenever they get out of hand, smile with the satisfaction that comes from knowing that their parents will have to deal with them 24-7 next week. Think about it. Very satisfying.

Good luck. My kids go to a school with a balanced calendar, so today is the first day of their three week break.

Oh, yes. Believe it.

Kevin McKeever said...

I've meet Mrs. Literal Dan. She can whip those kids back into place with one hand tied to extremely large wrench.

ms-teacher said...

If her subs are anything like the subs we have in our district that is reason enough alone to make it to work everyday!

On Saturday, I would fix her a nice breakfast in bed after her very hectic week :)

Kori said...

Just tell her that there IS one kids who actually truly loves her and look up to her, and that ONE kids is going to remember her 30 years from now and she IS going to have made a huge difference.

Natalie said...

i taught school years ago...in a former life. 4th grade for one year and kindergarten for 3 years. the kindergarten class was at a year round school. 9 weeks on 3 weeks off. that last week before the break the kids were always a little wilder. the best part is that i had a 3 week recovery period instead of just 1 week. i haven't taught school since those year round days and i am honestly scared to go back. i can't imagine having a better working environment and holiday situation.

oh...and i have no read advice. just stories about the good old days. sorry.

Pearl said...

I have never been a teacher, and so can't really say anything specific to it.
But I can say that personally, when I stop looking forward to the work, when I start hoping that I become sick or start faking sickness, it's time for a new job.
Sometimes, a new outfit can delay the inevitable...

Zip n Tizzy said...

All I can say is Hang Tight... and then really enjoy next week.
Sorry. I've got nothin'.

Bad Momma said...

Have her bring you in for the day.

That out to scare them into behaving!
At least they would see what your wife has to deal with at home and feel sorry....

Totally kidding (well sort of)...

Otter Thomas said...

My mom is a teacher so I am familiar with this phenomenon. I have no idea how to help. I wanted to say I feel sorry for her. Good luck.

Hilary said...

Two things: Your wife deserves serious praise and absolutely should be told that what she's doing? It makes a huge, huge difference. No matter what. Second? Thanks for the engagement congrats. :)

Mrs. B. Roth said...

When ever I comment (and seeing as how I'm the #1 commentor, I should know), I always see that little "I'm still eagerly awaiting some real-life hate mail!" thing.

How can people send you hate mail when you have a wife who recently had hip surgery, who teaches special needs kids on the poor side of town? I fear you will never never get the hate mail you long for, not until all your readers completely forget the amazing woman who saw enough good in you to fulfill your dreams of reproductive success. Her saintliness keeps you from the hate mail you long for ... I don't think you REALLY want it or you'd write much more controversial posts.

Tell her she's very pretty and rub her feet.