I’m still susceptible to those bad boys. My charming, soft-hearted, intelligent, and highly skilled mate having that element of beastiness (not to say beastliness) that appeals to this day. He relates to Shrek, though I assure him that most folks aren’t ready for the real Fiona. He is not a tame husband, though I appear to keep testing that. I know he likes that feistiness about me too, though at first it appeared otherwise. Fresh from spiritual revival he was, a genuine experience of God, but also an inclination toward seeing some sort of reproduction of is mother’s excellent example of the Christian wife. Myself fresh from my own deepened spiritual life and hoping not to reproduce my own mother’s excellent example of the beasty wife. And so we got a little off track from our true natures. At least I can speak for myself in that.
One of the things I discovered over the years is that he likes to be teased, the more pointed the better (avoiding any real sensitivities, of course). Putting the challenge right back in his face, the most welcome defense a good offense. As in, “Honey, didn’t you get the kitchen clean?” “No, my dear, I had better things to do, so I called the help, but they were booked, so I’m waiting for you to fill in.” He loves it. And it sure is more fun than taking offense and feeling like a failure. Though I still have my suspicions that the righteous way is more service oriented and humble. I trust that my heavenly father has the longer view and more room for a meandering kind of growth, through my various stages of unadulterated self.
As a teacher, likewise, as I explained in the staff room yesterday, I find it easier to deal with equanimity with the kid who slams his books on the table and says, “I’m not doing this–this is stupid!” than the one who asks me how to do something every five minutes and whines that it’s too hard. I can relate to the first, and also there’s a strong will there, which I think is a very useful thing, something that can be directed. But the second is sounding an awful lot like a victim, and that’s the part of me I don’t like. Not very fond, either, of the complete conformist who only aims to achieve an acceptable task completion score.
Take the boy I’d been warned about on the phone by his teacher that morning before classes started, in case he wasn’t removed from the classroom for the day as requested, as he didn’t deal with subs well. He came in with a slam, snatched the paper handout I gave him with a “What’s this? I don’t want to do this!” And so it began, and somehow it turned out all right, and I wish I knew exactly why so I could package the formula and sell it to the trainers from the insurance company, not to mention pressing the same buttons the next time it happens to me. I guess it had to do with not being shocked and awed, treating him as if he had something worth contributing to the discussion about ways to earn a living, and doing some waiting it out or as the trainer said, giving him sometime and space. On the question about which was “goods” and which “services,” clarifying that the weed would be the goods and the dealing, services. And trusting him, when he said he couldn’t work with the rest of the class (corroborated by others) to take a few fellow students into the common area outside the classroom and work there. When I checked in, he referred to me to the others as a “homey.” For which I asked a definition and found that it means one accepted into one’s group. I said thank you, and that I’d noticed he had been pretty mad when he came in. He assured me that he hadn’t been mad at me, and I said I hadn’t thought so, and wandered back into the classroom.
Who needs fire walking, or tight ropes, or handstands on rings, when you can teach middle school? Lots of falls, years of practice, thrills and spills and a sense of accomplishment/relief when things work. And that there’s always the next challenge, and life is short.
And that weird balance between trying to “keep control” and admit that it’s in their hands, and making that appeal to their better nature. Today was tough–I was in a classroom with high, hard walls and windows, all echoing so that every voice had the feeling of three, and what seventh grade boy or girl can resist joining a cacophony of three? About half of the former and a fourth of the latter, in my estimation. All I could hope for was for things to keep moving along, and for those so inclined to be able to learn something and get their assignment done, and to fairly distribute the consequences for not, per policy. And to maintain equanimity. Though one kid said I had to stop being nice because nice doesn’t work with those kids. Yes I felt that at the end of each class, no matter how raucous, I wanted to be able to smile and say thanks and have a great day, to have them still believe what I’d told them in the beginning, that I love subbing in middle school classes. There are a lot of bad boys. Next time I’ll write about the fierce girls.