Sometimes, for “Throwback Thursday”, I will post one of my old columns. (Note that I said “sometimes.” I’m not good at “always.”)
It’s funny, when I read some of my old columns from a few years back, I cringe a little. I think it’s just because my “voice” is different now than it was then, at least on certain topics. On others, it hasn’t changed much. I will not attempt to reframe my thoughts and feelings on a topic I’ve previously written about (and published in what is now The Leader-Call, formerly The ReView of Jones County) by editing these columns. I will post them as they were.
I will, however, tell you how my perspective today is different (if indeed it is).
This will, in some cases, require me to eat some humble pie, which my husband will tell you, I don’t do very well. I usually tend to choke on it and try to spit it back up, but I’m trying to change that.
This one is a good example. My perspective on the following column, from about 4 or 5 years ago, has not changed much. I still have the utmost respect for teachers, who I still believe, based on what I’ve seen, do indeed constitute the predominant voice of reason and support in some children’s lives. (And I’m still convinced that this is a job that I am in no way qualified or capable of doing.)
My older self, however, now having a few more years as a parent under my belt, thinks I should not have been quite so quick to judge the woman I wrote about in this column. Truth be told, I had not a clue about what did or didn’t happen in her life that day, that week, that year, or ever (except that she almost plowed over me with her shopping cart that night). The present day me would likely have still had a rather indignant initial reaction to her, but hopes that by the time I sat down to write about it (or at least by a later edit), I would have focused more on the children and the teachers, and less on guessing (because that’s all it was) about this woman’s motives, morals and circumstances. Bottom line, it doesn’t matter what they were. (Plus, heaven only knows what an observer of me on my worst day would have to write about. Cringe.)
So here it is:
“Thanks in advance, teachers
One night last week, I decided to get a jump on our family’s back-to-school shopping. I usually procrastinate when it comes to this task, but I always end up paying for it with my sanity. Plus, it’s a little awkward having to work with someone on a school fall festival committee when you recently had a knock-down drag-out in the aisle five at Fred’s over the last 8-count pack of large Crayola crayons.
I wasn’t the only parent with the idea to get the school supply shopping done (or at least started) early. Wal-Mart was pretty full at 9 p.m. I also needed groceries so I could tell I would be there a while. Rather than stress, I took my time, letting most of the crowd clear out.
I have to say, I noticed that several small children were present that night. Not surprisingly, several were melting down at that hour. Fortunately, my kids were home in bed. I try really hard not to subject others (or myself) to what my children are like when kept up past their bedtime, but I understand there are times when it’s unavoidable. I’m not sure this qualified, but that’s neither here nor there.
About 10 p.m., I couldn’t help but notice a woman with three children in tow who had to all be under the age of 8. I couldn’t help it because she nearly ran over me with her basket while talking on her cell phone.
I don’t know what she was so upset about, but she was railing about something. Every other word out of her mouth was *&^% this or #$@ that, with no attempt at all to shield her conversation from the children, which, by the way, she was paying absolutely no attention to. They were clearly not shocked by her vocabulary. They just sort of trailed of trailed along behind her. I felt for the kids.
Even more, though, I felt for their teachers.
Somewhere in this area, there are three teachers among hundreds of others preparing to start a new school year. They’re getting their classrooms ready, collecting supplies and making lesson plans. Hopefully, they’re recharged after their summer break. They may be frustrated with the system and the lack of resources, but they’re there, regardless, making the best of it.
They will attempt, over the course of the next year, to teach these three children everything they need to know for their grade level, and they will probably do it with more patience and compassion than you or I could possibly muster in their shoes.
If these kids have really good teachers, the teachers will also attempt to teach them about respect, manners and common sense.
They could very well fail. And it won’t be their fault.
What teachers do between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. is very important. But let’s face it, if this woman is any representation of what many of today’s kids go home to at the end of the day, just how far can we expect teachers to take kids? No grammar class in the world can undo the damage she causes.
And I’ll bet you anything that if one of her young ‘uns came home complaining about the teacher, she’d be the very mother getting in the teacher’s face. So forget disciplining them, too, right?
Yes, it’s entirely possible that this woman was just having a bad night. That’s probably being generous, but it’s in the realm of possibility.
Still, we all know there are plenty of kids out there whose home lives are not what we would wish for them. And that does not make teachers’ jobs any easier.
I know a lot of teachers, however, and I’m pretty sure all of the teachers I know will step up to the plate anyway.
Thank goodness. For a child on the brink, each could be the only bright point of light in an otherwise dark and confusing world.
To all of the teachers in Jones County, public and private alike, thank you in advance for everything you will do for our children during this upcoming school year. (And parents, make sure you give your children’s teachers the support they need this year. Learning doesn’t have to end at 3 o’clock.)”
Jesus does not want to know what I think or thought about this woman. When it comes to me, all he is concerned about is what I did (or didn’t do) about a troubling situation and whether I had compassion on all involved.
Humble pie eaten, forgiveness asked, lesson learned.