Teaching in the same building where my teenagers attend school has its benefits. For one, I know all of their friends, and I know them pretty well. When Tyler wrote his narrative essay recounting the time he and a group of kids made moltov cocktails and accidently caught one of the kids on fire, well that just told me that Jay wouldn’t be allowed to attend any more of his “bonfires.”
I know their teachers. When Louie comes home complaining about his Language Arts teacher and the projects she assigns I am able to explain why she has assigned these “stupid” projects and help him along the way in deciding how much time to spend on the diarama of a Jewish concentration camp (about 45 minutes, tops. It’s not like they were the Hilton.) When Jay tells me his biology/physics teacher (Farm Girl) had a lesson in which they spent the period sunning themselves, I know he’s not feeding me a load. (You’ve got to check her out if you don’t know what I mean.) I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
But today being in the same building with my kids is making me nuts. Crazy. Certifiable. It’s a terrible way to feel just days after Mother’s Day, but I can’t help it. I think they got their little pointed heads together this morning and decided “Let’s all see how long it takes to make mom’s head pop off and spin around! And let’s do it so the whole school can see. Yippee!”
My daughter Elle-belle rides to school with me, which is nice bonding time. Most of the time. But this is cheerleading tryout week, and she’s trying out for the 7th grade squad. And I’m the advisor.
“Mom do you think I’m going to make it?”
“We will have to see.”
“But do you think I’ll make it?”
I get to school early. I do it on purpose because the building is generally quiet and deserted. She sets herself up in the back of the classroom and starts practicing her cheers. Loudly. Then she starts asking me questions about the cheer.
“Is it a slap or a clap there? Are the words ‘ready to fight’ or ‘here to fight’? How does my high-V look?”
“Look, love, I’m at work. I’m trying to work here.”
“So this isn’t the time for me to talk cheerleading.”
“CUZ I’M WORKING!”
“Geez, what’s your problem this morning?”
Next walks in Louie, his baseball backpack in tow. Protruding from either side of the bag is a giant baseball bat. He brings the pack in my room and drops it in the front of my classroom.
“Here’s my stuff, mom.”
I push through the gaggle of needy sophomores crowded around my desk.
“Can you put that in the back of the room?”
“In the back. Anywhere.”
“Like back there?”
“YES BACK THERE!!!”
“Geez, mom, what’s your problem?”
I narrowly escape the room hoping to slip into the teacher’s lounge and make 10 copies of my handout for first period because, of course, I didn’t make enough copies to begin with. (Which, seriously? How do I make that mistake in May when I’ve had the same number of students since September?) Jay grabs my arm in the hall. With a scared look on his face he says, “Mom I need to talk to you!”
“Hang on one second. I need to make these copies.” Ten minutes later I walk back into my room to find him lounging behind my desk in my chair. He is leaning back with his head resting in his hands, completely relaxed. The bell rings. He is now also late for first period and I have an audience of kids who will witness this touching mother-son moment.
“Mom. I have a problem.” I’m thinking car accident…pregnant girlfriend….
“Saturday I’m supposed to go to that graduation party. We’re having our family Spring Cleaning Day – Dad says I can’t miss it – and I have a project to do with Walker.” He is looking at me with that I-have-no-idea-what-to-do panicy look on his face.
I can feel my head expanding. Heat rises into my cheeks. In a low, steady voice I say, “This is NOT the time or the place. Can we not talk about this at HOME? LATER?”
He hightails it toward the door, looks over his shoulder and says, “What’s your problem this morning, mom?”
At this point I’m ready to get myself fitted for the straight jacket. What do I do? Text the Doc. He will understand.
In true, wise Doc fashion he responds to my text, reminding me that we only have three days until cheerleading tryouts and ten more days of school. I immediately started to feel better. He said,”You have to remember that no matter where you are, the kids are always going to look at you as ‘mom’…and that isn’t a bad thing.”
Sometimes I just want to hear that somebody else knows exactly what I’m talking about. And sometimes I just need a reminder about what my most important job really is.