In honor of what is known in teaching as The Seven Year Itch, I post this entry from my journal...
Call me a dreamer, an idealist, or maybe the ultimate eternal optimist. Just don’t call me crazy. Nearly thirteen years post-graduation, I find myself looking forward to my very first teaching assignment. The re-certification process was not nearly as painful as other veteran teachers made it sound, and while putting together a resume confirmed my suspicions that I am over-the-top obsessive compulsive, it really wasn’t so bad either. As far as the nervo-meter goes, the interview process registered somewhere between giving birth to a nearly ten pound baby and awaiting my turn to speak at my father’s funeral. Fortunately, like those two grueling experiences, I survived–and, I only had to do it once!
I was absolutely elated to hear that I had landed the first teaching job I had applied for and even more excited to share the news with family and friends. Unfortunately, the excitement ended there. After calling my husband who was genuinely thrilled and supportive, I called my mom, my siblings, and a few close friends. After thirteen years of child rearing, careful budgeting, P.T.A. presiding, resume-building, part time gigging, networking, sweating, bleeding, and tearing--figuratively of course-- SURELY, those closest to me would share my eager anticipation to teach full time.
After proudly announcing that I would be teaching 7th grade English at a local junior high, the responses varied. While a few were encouraging, most sounded like this:
From Mom: “That sounds like a challenging position, dear. Now, are you sure you don’t have to take summer classes to be qualified?” (This from the same woman who has been asking me for the past decade, “Are you ever going to use your degree?” with the slightest hint of are you sure you really graduated? in her voice.
Scott, older brother, left a message on the answering machine: “Hello, Mrs. Thompson. I hear you will be teaching English next year. Congratulations...if that’s what you wanted.”
From Janice, oldest sibling: “Is that the job you wanted? Doesn’t sound like fun to me, but I’m sure you’ll do fine. Oh, you’ll be helping coach track.... that’s cool!”
From Elena, sister-in-law: “Good job. I am happy for you.” Although she tried to sound positive, I am confident she immediately hung up the phone and expressed her concern about my mental state.
From Adam, nephew-in-law, and future secondary teacher: A sarcastic, “Good luck with that.”
From the school’s secretary: “I hope you like it here...”
From the principal himself: “It will be 7th grade English. Are you still interested?” He went on to inform me that the turnover rate is high.
Now, I am not saying that next year is going to be a cake walk. I have a twelve year-old of my own. I know they vary from moody to moodier, they like to test the limits, they enjoy expressing their hatred for most authority figures, they lie, they do the minimum amount of work in the time given, they lack manners and most social graces they were taught as toddlers, they think themselves victims of anyone older than themselves, they don’t always remember the Right Guard, and their goofy looks inhibit their already crumbling, low self-esteem.
But, dammit! Be happy for me. As demented as it may seem, this is my dream.