Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sorry That I'm...Not Sorry

People have been noticing from the tone of my blogs lately that this hasn't been easiest few time of my life. Months of 60-70 hour weeks will do that to you, along with living in the middle of nowhere and therefore having exactly zero work/life balance. Last night, my Dad told me I'm being too whiny here and on Facebook and that I needed to tone it down.


I won't argue that I'm whiny and negative. (I mean, is the sun yellow? Is the sky blue?) But this isn't just a job. And it's not just a difficult job. It's crawling out of bed at 5:32 to get ready and walk in the door at work by 6:30. It's eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at my desk. It's understanding how to not have your feelings hurt when students call you mean/stupid/old (I could keep going). It's the disgust at hearing my students call each other "nigger" and "faggot" when they walk down the hallway, and the frustration they feel when every test result or reading score is yet another let down. It's being unable to reach a parent because their phone is disconnected, or writing yet another referral for a student that is already too far behind. It's working like a dog and still being unable to afford to go out to dinner on the weekends to relax.

It's also an important job, and one that I'm proud to do. I worked REALLY hard to get here. Some days, just some days, I notice that my kids use "please" and "thank you" almost as many times as they say "shut up" or "Imma rock you in yo face". Some days, I notice a student who came to me on a first grade level explaining that our vocabulary word "disobedient" means not following the rules. Some days, I have to beg them to put their pencils down and stop writing in their journals so that we can move on with the lesson. Some days my most troubled boys will start telling everyone "Quiet down, man! Ms. G tryin' to talk!" There are some days when their observations and thoughts are so deep and profound that I literally get chills while I'm standing up in front of the board.

And every day, I believe these children have been done an injustice since the day they were born. I believe they are products of a system that has failed them on every level: socially, emotionally, and academically. I know that many teachers, myself included, find it easy to see them as a burden and tell ourselves it would be easier if "they" weren't there. I'd probably want to punch someone in their face, too.

The past six months have been an emotional roller coaster, and there are times I feel as though I'm hanging on for dear life. But like it or not, there's no getting off now.

So I apologize for the whining. You try living 100 miles from the nearest Starbucks and tell me what your mood is like at 6:15 in the morning. (And Dad? I love you, but you've been retired since I was 12. Feel free to be the substitute in my classroom any day of the week.)

The fact that I haven't brought work home in over a week and went the ENTIRE WEEKEND without doing a lick of school work are also doing amazing things for my outlook. It's like I...lead a normal life or something.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!


Mackie said...

Enz- I love you so much and I am so proud of you!! I could not think of a better person to be in the classroom everyday with these children. They need you so much! Keep up the good work. You're an inspiration!

Diana said...

Hi Ensley,

I lived for almost three years in Elizabeth City, not far from where you live, and I worked as a newspaper reporter. I sometimes think of them as the worst three years of my life.

On one side, hearing gunshots at night, interviewing murder victims' families who seemed so used to this life and on the other a white establishment that thought poverty issues were beneath them but that the city should do something about crime.

I was fresh meat in that town by the mere fact that I was a girl. Also being female, I wasn't taken very seriously. In a public meeting an elected official remarked to the group that at least I was better to look at than my male colleague.

I didn't deal too much with teachers, but on my last time there visiting friends, I met a teacher who grew up there and clearly felt her black students were second class.

It was a weird old place that had a lot of natural beauty, but was really lonely. I did find new hobbies and I did see lots of sights. There was nothing else for it so I'd drive around on some weekends going to public historic sites like lighthouses or museums in Virginia or on the beach. I'd make Sundays...that I had time to sip a coffee, breathe and take pictures. I learned to crochet, got a cat off the street, went to farmer's markets, pitched to magazines and opened the windows in the summer, and tried to keep them closed in the winter. I participated in my first organized bike ride--I think it's the Tarwheel Century in April-- and learned new recipes. Looking back, I had little money, few friends and not much time to go anywhere, but you get creative when the alternative is death by boredom and insanity.

You are queen of your castle and nobody can take that away from you.

Diana, Yulee 4

adrienne said...

You're amazing and whether you're being rewarded for it or not, you're changing lives in a very positive way. I love reading your blog, it's real and it's refreshing. It's how we all feel from time to time and sometimes I'll be honest it helps to know you're having a horrible day too.

Little Rowen said...

You are my hero! I appreciate your honesty,Ensley. Keep up the good work.

Haughty by Nature said...

@ Mackie Thanks girl! I love yoooou. You could have whipped them into shape in about .001 of the time that I have attempted to.

Haughty by Nature said...

@ Diana What a small freaking world! What you described is so spot-on. Thanks for the words of wisdom!

Haughty by Nature said...

@ Adrienne Riiiight? Maybe men just don't understand. (I should probably remove the "maybe" in that sentence.) Y'all would see right through me if I told you it was all sunshine and roses. So not me.

Haughty by Nature said...

@ Little Rowen Thanks girl :) !

Miss T said...

wow - havent seen you 'round these traps for a while but look! you're still awesome!
T xx

Leigh Powell Hines (Hines-Sight Blog) said...

I'm so proud of all that you have accomplished. I know it's hard to live in a small town. If you can get through this year then you can get through anything. You've changed lives, I know it.

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