October 16, 2012

Adventures In Babysitting

I cleaned all the cobwebs off my blog site and dusted off the keyboard to bring you the real reason why I have been MIA the last month.

It's the Babysitting Gig.

I know, I know, technically it's not babysitting--it's my job. If I ever had any illusions that my job was anything more than being a babysitter (which I don't recall having any such illusions), they have long since gone by the wayside. When I took this job--keeping a room full of high school students who got in trouble under control--I was expecting the cursing, the arguing, the attitudes. What I wasn't prepared for was all the bonuses that come along with the job, bonuses I'd like to share with you today.

1. Anonymity     
Outside of work I am a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend. I am training to become a Girl Scout troop leader and I am the volleyball team mom. I serve in the nursery and teach 2 year olds at church. I have my own business and keep house for my family of five. But none of that matters once I step inside my classroom. There I give up all claims to real life and simply become "Miss". Apparently for kids with names like Mqkrsyilz and Bgrlsytesa and Qalvnxei, my short, simple, spelled-how-it-sounds last name is too hard to pronounce. I've had kids look at my little 5 letter name and say, "I don't get it."
"Really??? That's too much for you to handle? The effort to figure it out is too taxing? Then by all means, spend your day calling me Miss. It's better than some of the other names you kids have called me."
 Adding to the anonymity is the fact that once my teacher-on-duty leaves the room, I cease to exist. It's true. The students are quiet and behave (somewhat) better with the real teachers, but once they are gone I become invisible to the human eye. Or at least those eyes that belong to high school students. I can be standing right next to a student, holding a referral that I am filling out because he won't stop talking and it has no effect on him. I can only determine that I must disappear when the teacher leaves, otherwise I know these students would obey me.

2. Research Samples
What kind of research could I possibly conduct inside the suspension room? Why, genetic testing, of course! These delightful little children leave behind enough DNA samples to keep even the most enthusiastic genetic researcher busy. With nothing else to do--except for schoolwork--the girls pick off all their split ends...and drop them on the floor. They also continuously run their fingers through their hair in order to weed out any loose strands...which they also dump on the floor. The boys aren't much better. My young men of color like to obsessively use their hair picks until little tumbleweeds of hair are rolling about the room. But the fun doesn't stop there because there are also fingernails to bite, scabs to pick, noses to blow and sneezes to not cover. I spend my day in a petri dish of DNA and germs. But for those who have less than hardy constitutions, I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on my desk.

                                                                  3. Appreciation
I'm not talking about receiving appreciation from the kids--I'll become independently wealthy before I am appreciated by these kids. No, I'm talking about the appreciation that this job creates in me. After spending my day around disrespectful, rude, undisciplined kids who suffer from over inflated senses of entitlement, I go home and look at my kids--who feel like they are being "bad" when they jaywalk--and I just have to hug them. They make me so proud. Am I tough on my own children? Absolutely. But they live up to our high standards. They are kind, generous, fun kids who treat people and property with respect. There is no excuse for not teaching your kids basic respect for others and insisting that they treat people kindly. I don't care what your economic status is, what color or nationality you are, what language you speak, which neighborhood you live in, whether you have a college degree or are a high school drop out, if you are going to have children, you are solely responsible for molding them into considerate human beings. It's nice to go from the classroom, where I spend the day writing up kids for not behaving (in the room that they are only in because they couldn't behave in their real class), to my home where I get to be around my own children, who make me smile and laugh and bring me so much joy. It makes me appreciate them even more.

So is this my dream job? Let me just tell you, this is NO ONE'S dream job. But it's a job and I'm earning money. It's a daily adventure in my classroom. Stay tuned for future episodes...

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