I was dreading tonight’s parent-teacher meeting from a distance. (Ohai, I am writing in the evening because of morning exhaustion. Evening exhaustion is here too, but I feel the need to write a little and so I will.)
I kept running over conversations in my head and I was kind of uncomfortable with the conversations. They kept descending into the venting and ranting about stuff that was bugging me and I didn’t really believe that was what I wanted to say to these kids’ parents. But it was where the conversations kept going in my head.
That wasn’t how it went down when the time came ’round, however. And it wasn’t like I coached myself or forced myself to “try and remember to be nice”, it’s more that when I actually sat across from real human beings, thinking about all I know and all I can glean about their children, and I didn’t want to be “nice”, but I also stopped caring about my personal feelings and frustrations. Suddenly it was much easier to put myself in the kids’ shoes and think about all they must be going through – self-centered little bundles of our society’s future that they are.
That’s just being young teenagers though, isn’t it?
Sometimes “oh to be young again” trips off my tongue as glibly as the next person’s, but I don’t think I really mean it. It’s taken 40 years to gain even this level of incompetence at dealing with life, and I can barely deal with pretty expected hormonal shifts I encounter. Be fourteen again? Be so sad and isolated and confused and feel like an imposter and a fraud and a constant failure? Hate my body (oh yeah, btw, my skinny body) with even more intensity than I can manage on the worst of my self-loathing days now?
Oh good fuck no.
So. The meeting. It was long. At times it was intense, but it was actually pretty good and honest and I feel a bit refuelled in terms of ability to teach and work with that class-group.
Funny, I’ve usually thought about parent-teacher meeting as being about handing on information, or as being something that helped the parents feel more connected to their child’s schooling. Tonight I kind of felt like maybe I got a bit more connected to the group too.
I also came out of it thinking that when this group has completed their final year of Junior Cycle then I’m going to ask for (at least) a year off being a class teacher. I’m starting to feel like maybe it’s a bit too much of me. I feel like I’m at the centre of a web and there’s a conduit of energy and caring that’s at all times open and flowing to each of the 26 members of my class, and so much of me haemorrhaged out through it tonight.
I’m drained. And I feel a little emotional, maybe a little sad-emotional.
I feel in need of a bandaging and some gathering and some care. (I did get some of that from my family tonight, but my small boys are small and it can feel a bit like being loved by a hurricane, and my big boy is big and also carrying weights and responsibilities and we’re both a bit “pushing through right now”.
And I feel like I can’t even stop and take a break because there’s more responsibilities tomorrow and yet more commitments that are rolling towards me with steadfast certainty and I can avoid them no easier than the grave; I must meet them, prepared or not; I must meet them, or fail.
I used to always have a bottle of wine at the end of a parent-teacher meeting evening. Oh, I would always have school the next day too, but it would be either a Wednesday or a Friday and that was a tolerable place to which to bring a mild hangover.
I can see why I wanted to shut down. And then the following weekend I’d need to deal with feeling crappy – probably some mild alcohol induced anxiety, definitely a wodge of disappointment in myself. Feeling like I wasn’t good enough.
Still nothing like what 14 felt like though. Man.
I didn’t know what I was going to write when I sat down here tonight. I’m not even 100% sure what I did write, and I’m not going to read over it. I’ll just publish this vomitous outpouring of random emotion to the internet, so!
Well, it’s better than tamping it down with merlot!