Friday, March 25, 2011

Back to School

Teachers need to be paid more. I'm not just saying that because my husband is a teacher. I'm saying that because I visited my son's school today and I was exhausted after 40 minutes.  Its a sharp contrast between the educators I work with, professors, and elementary teachers,  actually its a alternate universe.  Apparently the extra letters after their name equals $$$. I had a professor tell me that he believes the pay scale is backwards, that elementary teachers deserve the big bucks and professors have it easy. Not that he wants to change that.   Even if you calculated the weekly hours between what my husband puts in to a professor (tenured) does, there is a sharp contrast between 60 and 6...I know, I know during that paid yearoff they are spending hours upon hours "researching"in Vienna . I can also say that because I have family members with Ph.D's and friends for that matter.  If elementary teachers made more however, it may attract a different group all together who would be in it for the wrong reasons.  My husband certainly didn't choose this career because he hoped to make his future grandchildren heirs to a fortune , he chose it because he hoped to help his future grandchildren and other children make a positive future (and possibly a fortune) for themselves.
Even in the short time I was there I longed for the solitude of my office. And a hand sanitizer.
Guilt, and love got me there in the first place. Mostly guilt. Part of my job includes overseeing evening concerts, tonight is one of those times, and it also happens to be my son's 8th birthday.  I already dropped the ball on the cake I promised to make him. Just looking at the ingredients last night sent me strait to the grocery store to buy one. At least they put his name on it, it also gave me a chance to get balloons, always a great distraction, and a pacifier for jealous siblings.
Because I won't be able to have a celebratory dinner, I thought I would surprise him and bring him a McDonald's lunch and sit and have it with him.  Its hard for me to keep surprises to myself, I have been known to divulge Christmas presents before Thanksgiving, but this was a good one. I packed his lunchbox (empty) and told him I would see him tonight.
By 9am this morning his teacher had emailed me and said he was in a panic because he didn't have a lunch or money to get one.  She knew I was coming so she kept the secret and told him he would just need to make do, that I'm sure freaked him out even more, but why was he digging into his lunch box before lunch anyway? When I arrived I hid near the teachers lounge and watched them line up. There I saw my little 8 year old standing in line holding a waffle and looking malnourished. Its hard to believe that just 8 years ago, I was his only food source, not a packaged waffle that a janitor "donated" to him. I peeked my head around and he saw me.  His brother was just walking by with his class and I had to hide because I didn't bring lunch for him. His lunch is at 10:20 in the morning, and McDonalds doesn't serve lunch until 10:30, so a clear dilemma. Plus he doesn't have a good history of having visitors. The last time I chaperoned on a field trip he clung to me like a monkey and wouldn't let go when it was time to depart, forcing me to threaten him under my breath so that other "perfect moms with perfect kids" couldn't hear me.
Once the coast was clear I escorted my visably happy son to the cafeteria.  We sat down on the little round chairs that are connected and began our lunch date.  Its amazing that in just 3 hours he could go from groomed to homeless looking.  The hair I brushed this morning was now parted in the middle, and the side, if thats possible . His glasses looked as if he had let everyone in class put their prints on the lenses. His shirt was untucked, his belt was wrong side out (must have missed that one) and I realized his socks didn't match (another oversight on my part).  As I licked my hand and tried to smooth his hair I was able to get a glimpse of second grade lunch ettiquitte.  For those who pack your kids lunch, they don't eat it.   The freakle faced awkward kid sitting across from us sat with a fruit cup in front of him for 35 min. until he spilled it. The girl next to me opted for the school lunch and was picking all the cheese off of her pizza, the green beans were left untouched.
My son devoured his quarter-pounder and fries, understandable, since all morning he had thought he was going to starve to death.  We sat there not talking most of the time, he did have his hand on mine though. Kids are ok with awkward silences, its not awkward to them.  I asked him who different kids were, he gladly told me and what each of their" issues" were. So- and-so is a whiner, so and so's grandma always has lunch with him etc.  I mentioned where I worked and that sparked a chain reaction that everyone at the table enthusiastically participated in. Oh, my daddy works there, my mommy went there, oh my uncle has a t-shirt from there. Wow, what a coincidence being that it is the largest employer in our town, but I kept my sarcasm to myself.  I noticed a fat little dad having lunch with his daughter, he raised the bar when he went through the lunch line with a tray and had a 2nd grade school lunch.  I couldn't help but think, Dork. Then I realized I was morphing into my second grade self and reminded myself to be nice. I glanced at the wall, they were lined with motivational posters. Like
"respect each other" and "your future is bright".  It must be time to go by now. I was wondering why we were still sitting there and realized that we were waiting until the entire table was quiet.  Did those noisy hulligans not understand that my tush fell asleep 15 min. ago  and I need to wake it up? As much as I love my son, I was ready to return to adultville.
Finally our table got the ok and we were free to go.  I kissed my monkey goodbye and decided to visit my husband (who also was going to get a suprise McDonald's lunch)  I found him hidden in the dark windowless teachers lounge along with an unusual amount of microwaves and a few other teachers seeking adult solitude. As a kid I remember how a teachers lounge seemed like a beautiful childless territory that no child had ever ventured  and your passport to get in was being a teacher.  I felt a combination of giddyness and butterflies crossing the line, (not being a teacher and all). Wow.. I say that with the most sacrasm one could imply, I must have really had an active imagination as a kid.  I looked around and discovered there were also posters on their wall, but these were "a child is a sponge and you are the water" Ok, it didn't say that, but I can't remember the exact saying. It was however motivating them to stick with it, just like the kids posters were. I could think of few good ones that could line my office wall, but I don't think that make motivational posters with swear words.
I also realized that my husband is surrounded by women, just like I'm surrounded by men all day. And gave me insight to not attack him with requests as soon as he walks in the door.
He experiences that all day. One woman is asking him computer advice, another asking him to fix her phone, another asking him to open something.  In my office nobody asks me for help with anything, one because they are men and two they assume I not competent enough to figure it out anyway.
But as with any new experience it gave me a chance to reflect on my day and I have come to 3 very distinct realizations.
1) I could never be a teacher.
2) I'm proud to have one for a husband, and even prouder that he is the father of my children.
3) I should really design curse word motivational posters, it could be very lucrative.

No comments:

Post a Comment