I wasn't really prepared for the emotional toll that leaving all these preschoolers was going to have on me. I still have a few more days teaching, but I've told the kids I'm leaving and they are... not pleased, to say the least.
The hardest one has been a 3 year old kid named Ian, who's been at the school since it opened. I babysit him sometimes, because his family's a mess. His parents just finalized a divorce, his brother bullies him all the time, etc. When I was babysitting him yesterday, I told him that I'm leaving soon, but we still have time to play at the school a few more times.
His exact response was:
"BUT YOU'RE MY BEST GROWN UP"
Starts running away from me in the Fred Meyers food court
Once I caught him, which thankfully didn't take long, he told me that it's okay I'm moving, because soon he's just going to get a jet, and use that jet to bring me and my family to live at his house.
So, there's that.
There's a girl in The Horrible Art Class. We'll call her Rebecca. In the first of four "allow me to memorize your names" segments The Horrible Teacher said "Rabak? Rebech? Arbitch?" at which point Rebecca, blushing, said "Rebecca. My first name doesn't fit on the attendance records for some reason." She was embarrassed by this.
Rebecca's hair is too long and her clothes are frumpy. But her eyes are alive under too much makeup. She's one of the Annoyed Ones in That Horrible Art Class; or, at least she's one of the ones who jets as quickly as she can.
Monday she was wearing a too-large sweatshirt. It said "In Case of (mid-life) Emergency Dial (Porsche) 9-1-1" and had a crude representation of a red RUF turbo on it. I asked her "So who saddled you with the shirt? Who has the disease?" and she said "My dad had a 911" and I plowed straight through "I just got one they're great everyone should have one" without touching on "what happened to it" "what happened to your dad" "why are you wearing your dad's sweatshirt." But you can see it. Whatever the circumstances there's a good possibility she's going through life minus a parent.
I just want to tell her she looks nice. I want to tell her to be brave enough to cut her hair, to stop hiding. I want to make everything be all right. I think when you're a teenager you're too busy being consumed by your own fragility to notice that you're all standing around like scared deer waiting for the tigers to come.
I've surrounded myself with children in the virtual world for fifteen years now. When surrounded by real ones my instincts are the same. Protect, inform, advise. I think I've realized that my overwhelmingly paternal instincts are an overreaction to my fundamentally feral upbringing.
My wife got back from a conference a couple weeks ago. They were talking about ACE scores and how many in the midwifery community tend to score higher than baseline. My wife and her new employee remarked that they were "zero" and "one" respectively but the argument was that if you have a non-zero score and your patient has a non-zero score your relationship has a cumulative score and in a traumatic birth your interactions are going to be a product of the cumulative, not the individuals. Curious, I took the test and scored a six.
It bugs the shit out of me that my altruism is motivated by the shadow effects of 30-year-old bullshit. It's disempowering. It makes it feel fake. It means I became Reddit's Father Confessor not because I wanted to do good but because I was flailing to fill the hole dug there decades earlier.
Now all I can notice is how stinky teenagers are. I wonder if they always were and now I sound like David Fucking Brooks.