The enemy comes into the world deceptively beautiful. Seeds are floating through the air, it’s spring. But this summer is different, I think, I feel older. I am eight no longer seven after all. The walnuts I used to collect to make worlds are just stale nuts in a sack. My best friends have all turned mediocre. School is a stack of late homework slips and behavior charts, and the dunk-tank rite of passage to summer is a cruel spectator sport.
Is this what adults feel ? Is this why people are all so full of hate, because they’ve lost their imagination , their curiosity ? I decide it is the reason planes crash into buildings and children are killed in wars and my friends’ mothers die. It’s all because of this sadness, settling in.
Heavy to breathe, heavy to sit, it’s heavy to lie down (I can feel all my muscles attached to my bones, these objects inside of me, pushing me forwards — where? For what purpose?). Boredom is an occupation. Sentences end in whatever.
I used to want to speak for this child I was. I thought I’d be a teacher, I wanted to meet myself in some small lost person and tell them everything I would have wanted to hear.
But I’ve met me already. Over and over though years of teaching , and each time the child I identified with the most is the child I hated to teach. The child I had to send out of the room just to get a few moments of peace. These kids were me at different ages — the girl who drew the word “love” on her wrist in sharpie instead of doing the assignment, the boy who refused to play with the group, or played the clown in search of attention. The boy who cried and punished himself because he thought he was late.
Only once did I take a moment to really listen to one of these children . He asked me to play a game of cards with him when we were doing a different activity, and as it was my last day in the job, I looked at this three year old whose face was normally only a scream,risking everything to ask me for one moment.
I told three year old me were sure as hell going to play a game of fucking cards. Let the other children run wild. “They will do their war,” I told him. “I want to play cards, how about you?” I told the others to come see me only if there was blood, and I played a game of cards with this tiny child, who was smiling for the first time in my class, as his peers destroyed one another all around us. In the eye of a storm of projectile couch cushions, tantrums, tattle-tales– In short, battle scrimmage, — there were the two of us calmly talking about which animals were on the back of which pieces of paper. He got seven out of ten English words. All I had ever heard him say was NON!
So is this the price I pay to save myself? The version of myself that I see in these “black sheep” students sometimes doesn’t want to be saved. I wouldn’t have, at that age. I would have stuck out my tongue at any adult with a formidable plan to get me to participate. Circles don’t come full, it turns out. The choice was always adapt or be medicated, and I thought I could wrest another option into the game of war. But war is war, sacrifices happen whether or not I show up at 8am.
This is the primary reason I have decided that “works well with children” is coming off my resume. I don’t work well with children. At best, I am made into the image of my tormentors. At best, the world falls apart. Every day I came back from these jobs, I threw myself into a coma of merlot and Netflix. I dreaded the next day of work and found every excuse not to go in.
I still think about those kids, the ones I couldn’t stand. The lost ? The demonic ? The chosen few ?
I don’t want to meet them. I’ve realized mirrors are tools of destruction .
I am completely side-stepping here the other factor in this professional move, that I can’t stand that a woman with a four year degree is constantly solicited to be a stand-in mother. But that is another post.