Diapers and Dragons

Friday, September 25, 2009


1. It isn't hard to love them, these miniature people with the wacky senses of humor and infectious giggles and puckered-lip smooches, but it is at times immensely difficult to like them. Especially at six o'clock in the morning when I'm trying to convince them that they should get dressed and maybe not whine and cry and throw their clothes across the room and twist away from me while I'm putting on their shirts/shorts/socks. Oh, and then God forbid I actually get them out the door without carrying them both simultaneously along with my laptop, purse, and lunch. I am, after all, a professional pack mule.

You should sleep in later, DramaBoy informed me as we drove the (thankfully much shorter) commute to daycare and work.

I'd like to, but I can't. My work starts early, I replied.

Well, then you should tell them they start too early and they need to start later, he said.

Sometimes I wonder how I ended up in a career where I am routinely up before dawn and starting my day just as most normal people are thinking about crawling out of bed and hopping in the shower. Not for me the leisurely breakfast with the newspaper over a steaming mug of coffee. I forgot to grab a new box of South Beach Cereal Bars this morning, so I had to go begging. My darling mentee S. had a snack pack of chocolate crackers in her cabinet, so at least I won't be taking my pills on an empty stomach. Yesterday that did not go well: between the lack of breakfast and my unfortunate habit of dehydrating myself during the workday, I had a bad reaction to my antibiotics and had to go home early.

Note to self: Drink More Water.

2. I've managed to get a few of my many stacks of papers graded this week, and hopefully more will be done this afternoon. I miss the days of teacher's aides: when the state changed the rules about monitoring TAs and making sure they were actually working, the district discontinued the program. I worked my TAs hard. In fact, I had one student who referred to himself as my "TB"--he said he wasn't the Teacher's Aide, he was the Teacher's B*tch.

So now there is no one to grade the objective quizzes and tests that pile up on my desk, no one to file my papers, no one to decorate my bulletin boards or make posters or tidy my cabinets. I laugh when people say that teachers have it easy, working a measly six- or seven-hour day. That's ignorance talking, so usually I forgive.

Unless they get insulting about it, in which case I have to wrestle with the rage. So far no one's gotten hurt. Much.

3. I still haven't unpacked and organized things at the house and apartment. I'm struggling with decisions, such as where to keep the majority of my clothing and shoes. I think the house is the logical choice, but this means I will have to plan ahead. I'm much more accustomed to waking in the morning and choosing my outfit based on how I feel. Is it a sophisticated sort of day, or am I feeling cute? Skirt or slacks? Jacket or cardigan? Blouse or top? And then there's the issue of accessories. Earrings, rings, necklaces, shoes. I'm an emotional dresser. I think I will have to provide myself with at least two more outfit options than I actually need in order to satisfy my sartorial soul.

4. At some point I need to go coat shopping. I have a snappy little charcoal grey coat from the Gap that will do for daily going-to-work during the winter, but I am lacking a true winter coat for the outdoors. Since DramaBoy is already stating his desire for winter to arrive so he can play in the snow...

You'll get tired of the snow after a little while, I said.

No, I won't! I will love the snow forever and ever! he replied.

...and it looks like I might actually get involved in outdoor activities more often these days, perhaps I should have outerwear that will prevent hypothermia. I may need to invest in a good pair or two of long underwear, not to mention heavy socks and real gloves. Oh, and perhaps a pair of boots that don't have a fancy heel.

Last winter I barely stepped foot outside other than travelling to and from my car. I'm sure that didn't help my depression any. This year I just might breathe some fresh air and have a snowball fight or two. I've heard a rumor that Michigan actually has sun in winter. That vitamin D could do me a world of good.

5. A student thanked me this morning for making him write that horrendous ten-page paper last year that is the annual bane of my sophomores' existence.

I told you so, I said, always the gracious victor.

My sophomores this year have already heard about it. The paper is a good seven or eight months away and they're already groaning.

I love having a reputation as a tough teacher. I don't want to be the teacher students choose because they'll be able to skate through my classes. I want to be the teacher they remember years later, the one they just might send an e-mail or card to, or drop by on a visit, so that they can tell me that as much as they resented the work I made them do, they are grateful for it now.

I do have students who return, however, who sign up for classes on the chance they'll get me again, who visit my classroom and tell me how much they miss having me. It feeds my soul to know I have an impact, that I make a difference. I could not be happy in a career where I felt like I was just a cog in a machine, where if I disappeared no one would know the difference and my position would be filled as if I had never been there. Knowing that at least some of my students see me as a significant person in their lives makes the stress of this job worthwhile.

It even makes getting out of bed at 5:30 in the morning bearable. With a cup of coffee, of course.

6. I took the RHETI Enneagram test yesterday on the recommendation of my dear friend Heidi. I've always been a fan of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a tried-and-true personality assessment I've loved for years. (I'm an XNFJ, for those of you in the know--a combination of INFJ and ENFJ depending on my context.) The Enneagram goes hand-in-hand with the MBTI, really, even asking for one's MBTI type on the RHETI test. It turns out I'm a Type 4, the Individualist, with a secondary emphasis of Type 2, the Helper. Reading the Type 4 description was...eerie. It was as if someone crawled into my head and wrote me down. The Type 2 description is a little more secondary, but still true.

Something written on the Enneagram Institute website caught my attention, because it is true of both my Type 4 and Type 2 aspects, and it says a great deal about why I do what I do:
Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing Twos, Threes, and Fours in their inner work is having to face their underlying Center fear of worthlessness. Beneath the surface, all three types fear that they are without value in themselves, and so they must be or do something extraordinary in order to win love and acceptance from others.
I cannot express how true this has been for me during my life. Even now, when I am stronger and more self-confidant than I have been in...well, ever! I still struggle to believe that people would love me simply because I am Me, rather than because I am or do something that stands out, that grabs attention, that has a Wow! factor.

Last night Joe told me that he wants to know me just because I am who I am, not because of what I do or can do for him. I want to believe this, but it's difficult. I so often feel like I am insufficient in myself, that I need to do and be More. I'm still learning to love myself, to be content with who I am in the Now.

Where I'm blessed is the many wonderful people in my life who are patient enough to keep telling me this, who are happy to just spend time with me. I was reminded again this morning, when I read a lovely comment from GingerB, a fellow blogger whom I have never met, yet who sent a message of love across the blogosphere.

I love you too, Ginger. I love you all, and I'm so thankful for you all.

I better end my ramblings before I get all mushy and verklempt.

Happy Friday, you wonderful people!

10 bits of love:

The Kampers said...

You are far better than me with the whole tolerating "teaching is such an easy job!" thing. Oh, and heaven forbid they say something like,"well, you get the summers off...and get paid for it." AHHHHHHH

Oh, and about the winter coat, I got this one from LL Bean http://www.llbean.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?categoryId=42364&storeId=1&catalogId=1&langId=-1&parentCategory=504735&feat=504735-tn&cat4=504728!

A.Mazing. and we are outside all winter long being we live at a camp. They might even have some in the clearance section. And sierratradingpost.com has really great deals on outerwear like snow pants and stuff. I was able to get Noah some lined ski pants last year for $20! And it's good stuff too.

beth said...

i'd like to me those people who have time to make and eat breakfast and read the paper. i guzzle a redbull in the car while feeding and dressing a five month old and putting on my make-up and texting my husband. oops. i didn't just say that.

Arby said...

Most of the people I have met who make the "you have summers off" comment reconsider their ideas when I remind them of the long hours at home, at night, and on the weekends, for teachers. If teachers' pay was not tied to their taxes they wouldn't be so quick to complain about a pay raise.

Becky said...

You and Me and Mother Teresa: (I)ENFJ

And, I just blogged (err complained) about grading 200+ assignments/week.

But, I don't need a new winter coat.


mom said...

Fun to hear your meandering thoughts, dear one! And I definitely think you need several outfits to choose from in the morning (I do too, although on long trips I have little choice), and I definitely applaud your decision to get warm winter under/outerwear and practical boots so you can play with DramaBoy in the snow. And I am one of those who always loves you for you. But I think you know that. And you also know how much I like MBT so I'm going to have go on line and see what this new thingy says about me, another one of those E/INFJ's, although the latter is the true me. Funny how the genes got passed on, with all the interesting changes that come from having the dear dad that you have! And keep that passion for making a difference in your students -- you're the kind of teacher one never forgets, I'm sure of that.

MomZombie said...

At your suggestion, I took the Myers-Briggs Personality type test and learned I am ISFJ -- Dominant Introverted Sensing. I saved the description, which is right-on, but made me kind of sad. I think I have a fantasy vision of what I want to be, which is in direct conflict with who I really am. I am using this to chart my career future.
I am now going to look into the the test you listed. Take are of yourself and remember one step at a time.

Lauren said...

Dear Teacher Mommy,

When blogging about your day, could you please take a quick picture of your beautiful shoes for that day and head the blog post with that?

It will give us normal, flatties people something to hate you for.

Your ex-roomie.

Linda said...

I get it. I so totally get it.


A Teacher said...

It's amazing how something like a quiet breakfast and a cup of coffee would be something we'd be jealous of. I know I am. Well we ~can~ have a quiet breakfast with our spouses; we just have to get up at 3am. :)

Todd said...

Thanks for the Enneagram link. I'll check it out in more detail.

I was introduced to the Enneagram in June. I found it very helpful. It explained a lot of things from my past. True, it's not a replacement for the MBTI, but it has a deeper, more spiritual undertone that I had not seen elsewhere.

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