Thursday, September 22, 2011

A new day dawning.....

I won't ever forget that day. There was no way I was going back to that place the next least that's how I felt as I climbed in my car outside the junior high I had been sent to after 5 teachers had come and gone in that classroom. All by November. I cried all the way home, a 25 mile drive, as I made my way to my second job at a dry cleaner after school ended at 2:30. I actually looked forward to that job every day, the one where I got to talk to adults and not think very much as I handed their clothes over the counter.

But, no, I did not want, could NOT go back to that classroom again. The one where the teenagers screamed and fought and generally acted like I wasn't even in the room. The one where I had been ushered by the department head, handed a roll book, and shoved in the door....kind of like a lion tamer, but no one bothered to give me a chair or whip.

But later when I finally picked up my infant daughter and made my way home well after dark, I sat down and faced facts. I HAD to go back. You don't give up your health care when you have a baby. Not when there is no other adult in the house to pick up the financial burden, pat your hand, and say, "It's OK, honey. You stay home and I'll take care of everything."  You look at yourself in the mirror, take a deep breath, and iron your clothes for the next day. You know you will get back in the car, drive back to whatever chased you away the day before, and face it all again.

And do you know what? The next day was always better. Every time.

It sounds like a small thing but it is a lesson that has stayed with me for over 20 years. And it is one that I added to my parental toolbox, the one that is full of adages that kids roll their eyes at, but we still hope they soak in somehow.

When a day kicks your butt, and does a grand job of it, take solace in the fact that when the sun comes up again, things really will look better.

I stayed in the classroom for 14 years after that first horrible year. I became a good disciplinarian.....mostly by caring for the kids I taught......and I learned to navigate the bureaucracy that hampers any large organization.

And when I have a tough day now, I rummage around in my mental toolbox, wrap the lesson from that horrible day around my shoulders, and hunker down to wait for the sun to rise again.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, you shall begin it well and serenely...”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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