Monday, February 2, 2015

Tips From My Mom #17

In mid-December I "saddled up" my Saint (Bernard), Cal, in preparation for a long walk through our neighborhood.  Tradition demands at least one leisurely stroll during the holidays to take in the soft lights and well-placed decorations.

The sights, surprisingly unchanged from year to year, comfort me. They serve as an anchor in the cultural hubbub swirling around me, making demands on my time and limited funds.  Time alone with my pup on a wintery evening does wonders for my harried mind.

As we started out we were greeted by a neighbor and her small poodle.

"Can we join you?"

What could I say but, "Of course!" A little overplayed on my part, as is my tendency when caught unawares, but off we went.  The juxtaposition of her tiny dog and my giant one amused me.

We were both feeling chatty and the walk was pleasant, even if it wasn't the experience I originally had in mind.

After a while our conversation turned to, "So, what do you do?"

I told her I taught first grade, to which she replied, "That's nice and easy.  Lucky you!  No stress, unlike my job..."

And she went on about the demands of her position while in my mind all I heard was my mom saying,

"Everyone thinks everyone else has it so much easier."

It applies in so many situations.  People with children think individuals without children have much more money, time, and freedom.  Folks working 9 - 5 jobs think folks working from home have the life.  People doing anything but working with children think teachers lead cushy lives.

Of course I am overgeneralizing but I think we are all guilty of thinking the grass is always greener next door.

My mom cautions against that stance.  The fact is, things are not really easy for anyone.  We all work.  We all struggle.  We all experience stress at one time or another stemming from finances, health, work, and family - both real and imagined.  We all must be careful not to belittle the lives of others.

With my mom's voice playing in my head I simply smiled and said, "Yes, teaching is pretty great".  I meant the kids.  The politics and the bullshit are another story.  A story that is wearing me down and one that I continually fight against.

But at least I have it easy, right?


37paddington said...

Your mom is very wise. And you are very gracious to have let your somewhat unimaginative neighbor off the hook so easily. Whenever I spent time in my children's kindergarten I was always in awe of their teachers and the fact that they could keep things humming along. I would be utterly wiped out. Frankly, I think you have one of the hardest jobs there is and it is only ever done well by people who have a calling. Sorry about the draining politics but I for one am grateful you do what you do.

Gary said...

Thank you. I do think that to be a good teacher you must enjoy the children and have lots of patience. Oh, and quite a bit of energy. At least for the grades I teach. Thankfully I am well suited on all accounts so it is a good match.

I am hoping for a political shift towards a more positive view of my profession but by that time I may already have retired.


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