Diapers and Dragons

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Do What I Say, Not What I Do

Yesterday I went off on my honors tenth graders.

They were whining, as has become all too usual, about my daring to *gasp* MAKE THEM DO WORK. I know. I am so cruel.

You see, I just assigned them the dreaded TeacherMommy Ten-Page Paper That Requires Them To Do All Sorts of Unreasonable Things. Namely: (1) read and analyze a major piece of American literature on their own; (2) research the biographical info of the author, (3) research the historical context of the literature/author; (4) synthesize their literary analysis and research into a seven-to-ten-page paper that discusses how that author's work is the "living memory" of our nation, with proper MLA format, citations, and Works Cited page; and finally (5) prepare and deliver a ten-minute presentation, with visuals and handouts, of their findings.

It's a bitch of an assignment.

This is the project that makes students who formerly adored me start snarling at me with hatred and resentment. My response is and has been that I really don't care if they hate me right now, BUT however long it is down the road (a few months if they're bright; a few years or more if they're a little slower on the uptake) that they finally realize that I was doing a major favor by prepping them for the hard work they will face in the future, they need to thank me. E-mail, phone call, walk in my room, catch me in the hall: I don't care how they do it, they need to do it.

At any rate, I went off on a rant and preached at them from my lofty soapbox about Doing Things You Don't Like To Do and Taking Responsibility and Not Being Whiny Little Bastards. One of the examples I brought up is parenthood: as much as one may love one's children, there is a LOT of crap (literal and figurative) that comes along with the job, and one has to just get through that and deal with it and move on.

I realize that I am in danger of being labelled a hypocrite here. My own motivation at work is on par with the seniors'. My desk is overflowing with pile after pile of quizzes and papers that really need to be graded and which I have not touched in ages. I have several student evaluations to write for IEPs which may be overdue at this point: I don't even remember when they were supposed to be turned in.

As for parenting--last night and this morning I definitely slipped down the scale of parenting excellence, at least as far as patience goes. I found myself responding a little too harshly last night when DramaBoy and (especially) The Widget insisted on climbing out of bed again and again and again instead of staying put as I told them to. This morning as I struggled to get bags and a computer and kids all out to the car in the rain (I'm staying with ComputerDaddy for a couple of days, so of course I have to pack up half my life), I repeatedly lost my temper. I snarled and snapped at them as they got in the way when I was lugging things out, as The Widget wailed and followed me about because I dared leave his sight, as DramaBoy lost his shoe on the porch and simply walked away instead of putting it back on, as I discovered and had to clean up the ridiculous mess they had made with cereal while I was in the shower, as DramaBoy began whining when he heard he was going to his daycare today instead of switching over to The Widget's as he insists he wants to do...

Feeling that rage boil up inside me, I had to remind myself that these are my sons, these are the precious little people who bring me daily reminders of grace, these are the souls God has put in my care. And as I just told my students yesterday, I must take the frustrating along with the rewarding. My whining and complaining, my lack of patience and forgiveness (It was an accident! DramaBoy insisted tearfully as I growled about the cereal mess. I don't care! I snapped back) is just like that of my students yesterday.

I'm better at giving instructions than following them.

So it's time to take a big breath, pray for grace and patience, and start over again.

5 bits of love:

The Kampers said...

good thing we get that chance to have ever moment be new! Praying for ya

Kathleen said...

That's a lot of juggling you're doing...praying for you!

Heidi said...

I remember when I thought 7-10 pages was long.

It's really easy to get frustrated and I feel your pain (like Sunday night, when apparently Ciaran's only goal was to do as many things that he shouldn't do in as short a time as possible).

merideth said...

that's not so bad - they should be grateful they don't have to go to the library (or several libraries) for their research!

i've been losing my patience lately, too. tonight when i pray for forgiveness and greater patience for tomorrow, i'll throw in a good word for you, too. :)

bsouth said...

It's hard being a mummy. I would imagine it's especially hard being a working mummy. I lose my temper on a daily basis, sometimes I can hide it sometimes not. My daughter's latest ploy when she's getting told off is to say "but I really love you mummy". That usually stops me in my tracks.

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