Did anyone have a great, fantastic, fabulous 2011? If you did, keep it to yourself.
I swear this year just sucked for me. It was like water torture. One drip after another in some long-standing monotonous drip. The bads weren’t horrible, but there certainly weren’t enough goods to counter-balance them. I think I spent most of the year sighing or hiding. While I wouldn’t actively tell you I’m depressed, everything about my being shouts it to the world. When I finally do get around to my “to do” list, therapy will be on there. Yippee.
So what exactly sucked?
- Last winter/spring: The school yearbook. By the time I took it on, it was already too late. I didn’t even realize I had missed deadlines. Mind you, it wasn’t my job initially, but I took it on. Needless to say, it was a huge time suck and very frustrating. The technology didn’t work. I couldn’t download and install the programs I needed because it would be wrong for me to have the password. My colleague who was keeping the computer cart in her room the entire year hadn’t informed anyone the laptops were all jacked up, leaving me with 6 machines for 20 kids to try to make it work. I ended up taking 3 days off to work on it and, even with help, it was late. That meant the books were late. The school paid $400 to have it expressed sent to us. It arrived the last day, barely in time. I felt like the biggest jackass of all time because I had failed to do just ONE LITTLE THING. Except it’s not little.
- Spring: The 8th grade promotion. It was handed to me because I would be teaching 8th grade this year. That, of course, meant that the 8th grade teachers were pissed at me for taking it on, which was conveyed to the students, who then treated me poorly. Plus they were just more passive-aggressive and mean to me. I spent the better part of two weeks organizing and setting it up. People who insisted on showing up to meetings, putting in their 2¢, and demanding certain elements then didn’t show up to help. I didn’t even know how to ask for help when people did offer. However, on those few occasions, the help was half-assed and got me yelled at. Then when it was all said and done, it was wrong, could have been better (duh!) and was finally over. I left feeling like the biggest jerk on the planet. I had taken all that stress, but at no point did I truly feel that my work was appreciated. I just felt like people were being nice when they did mention it. The only person who has made a difference in either of the two events was my colleague, Julie Tottori. She both helped and was kind enough to try to help me realize that what I was doing was a good thing. She tried to get me to realize I would never be appreciated for doing it and to just go with it — to let it go. Wise words, but I can’t and haven’t.
- Summer: Vacation in Iowa. Sigh. It was just a low-level of suck no matter how it’s described. Keb was sick. I had planned to stay with my mom, but ended up having to stay at a hotel due to Keb’s allergies. The weather was awful It was raining, and we were going to a water park with Cassie’s family. I had never been around Kobe, Cassie’s youngest son. Keb is pretty intolerant. There were six of us in a suite that was smaller than what I had just been in. My expectations to be able to hang out with Cassie and just talk/chill weren’t fulfilled because Kobe had his own needs. Ian got sick. By the time we returned to DM, Keb threw up all over Cassie’s new van. He then proceeded to tell her she wasn’t raising Kobe right and what a horrible kid Kobe was. We left Des Moines almost immediately cutting our trip short two days. I’m just lucky I actually still have a friendship with Cassie. Yes, it was THAT bad. Think about it, we both paid a good $500-700 to not enjoy each other, our kids, or the place itself. Horrible, just horrible.
- Summer: Planning for 8th grade. I just couldn’t get into it at all. I went in unprepared. I had no road map, no idea where to go, and no great love for the process which had just been changed AGAIN. I did go through the process of decorating the room with American figures and such. Imagine my reaction when, on the first day of school, my new team mate got a message about her room looking great and knowing she’d be a great 8th grade teacher. My board, “looks good.” Let down. I really did and do feel that my efforts and energy aren’t appreciated.
- Spring/Summer/Fall: Keb’s counseling. Keb had a rough year last year. I thought it was just him and the fact that his teacher was new to the school, going through the growing pains of new school/new grade, but after she was written up in the paper (poor thing), I suspect it wasn’t just Keb. We had gotten him in for sessions with a counselor because he was unhappy and, in his words, had no friends. We have no idea what happened in the sessions, but they didn’t seem to change much in Keb. The only good part of the process was having him IQ tested. This works out just in case he ever does attend a school with a GATE program. Other than that, it seemed like a lot of work for no real outcome. I think that’s the theme for the year. It doesn’t matter how much you put into it, your outcome will still be significantly less.
- Fall: Amelia died. I can’t even start to express how heartbreaking this was. I had been teasingly saying, “Arent’ you ready to die, honey. Mama wants new carpet.” Yet, when she stopped hanging around us, hiding, and ultimately stopped eating and drinking, it was so incredibly hard and sad. Worse, I knew that morning that she would not make it through the day. Yet, I went to work anyway because it was a busy day, and there was so much to do, and I had already missed work for a couple of other things. I have never, until now, worked out my incredible sorrow at leaving her to die alone, even though I promised her I would let her die at home with dignity. I miss her so very much.
- Fall: Mom’s surgery. I had known for some time that my mom was going to need a heart valve replacement. I hadn’t, however, expected her surgery to be done immediately. At first I thought I was so lucky because it was during our conference week, so only 3 days of planning and then one day of conferences. I was so fortunate because my colleague, Pam (who is freaking amazing, by the way), took on all of the extra work. Once I got to Des Moines, however, things weren’t as easy as they seemed. First, I wasn’t aware Mom would need 5-7 days in the hospital alone. Already I hadn’t planned well. However, she seemed to be doing really, really well. She was moved from CCU to the cardio floor the day after surgery. Unfortunately, things went bad after that. She ended up back in CCU, I took another full week off school, and I was working to make lesson plans from 1800 miles away AND I hadn’t brought my books with me. I was able to do it, with Pam’s help, but it wasn’t easy. Nor were the family emotions, the concern that I wasn’t doing enough, being away from my class, being away from my family. At no point in the process did I ever feel like I was doing the right thing at the right time. It’s been a month since I got back, and I know for a fact I didn’t do enough. It’s really hard.
- Is it me?: Not liking 8th grade. Adding insult to injury is the fact that I’m not in love with what I’m doing. I can’t quite pinpoint why, however. I know that 8th grade boys like kindergarten boys, 5th grade boys, and 12th grade boys are immature. I can handle a certain amount of that. What I can’t stand is the feeling that I’m being worked against in my own institution. I’m being told or intimated that my expectations are unrealistic and inappropriate. I’m too mean. I give too much homework. What am I doing to keep them from failing? Sigh. On one hand I’m being told to treat them like grown-ups, then when they fail to take responsibility for themselves, how am I going to bail them out. I just hate it all right now.
Truthfully I just want a do-over. Another chance at making it work, not being a king-sized a-hole, and having a productive life. Right now I’m not real sure how to do that. All I know is that I can’t bear another year like the one that just passed.