Thursday, May 24, 2012

This is the end.

I'm back…. promising with 59% certainty that I'll regularly be blogging again.  It doesn't matter much to me if no one reads it, it's cathartic for me and that is truly all that matters.  Why now, you ask?  It's a milestone day and I must chronicle it.  But fine, I'll preface it with a very brief catch up paragraph.

I vowed to make lots of changes this year in hopes that it would crush my horrid two year run of crap.  Well, I did make a huge leap… I just didn't anticipate that it would coincide with the rest of the good things in my life falling right apart.  I know I tout myself as outspoken, but my silence here has partly been an inability and unwillingness to put my mess out there for everyone to see.  Funny how when you could really use the outlet, you just can't seem to do it.   I don't know what's going to happen with any of it, but that seems to be the running theme I've had to uncomfortably become used to.  We'll leave it at that and focus on THE BIG DAY.

For someone that loves structure, I sure can't seem to stay in one place for too long.  I get that urge to roam and that nagging feeling that I'm missing something.  Maybe it's not really that complicated… but regardless of the reasons, I've racked up a resume that would make anyone furrow their brow or laugh, depending on what sort of person you are.   I'd like to think that the schizophrenic list of jobs and positions is a testament to my ability to thrive in just about any environment, but it may be more likely to solidify how off the wall I am.  I've worked in retail, restaurants, nightclubs, strip clubs, in a hospital emergency room,  was in corporate customer service, have been a receptionist and a dance teacher,  was a hairdresser for many years (probably my only true career)  and did a couple of stints as a stay at home wife and mother (my hardest job, that shit is not for the faint of heart)…. some of my other jobs are left out on purpose so that you can't use it against me later.   Most recently, I've put in five years with the public school system, working as a translator/interpreter (believe it or not, I speak three languages fluently but only curse in English), teaching Spanish and holding the Director position in an elementary After School Program.

Most folks that knew me in any capacity were equally amused and surprised that I was doing this.  Maybe I'm not the first person that would come to mind when thinking of the sort of woman to work with kids, but fact is, I'm good at organizing, managing, hiring, firing, dealing with conflict resolution and I'm a kick ass nurturer when it's called for.  So technically on paper, I'm perfect for the job.  Besides, while I'm not your textbook people person, I actually appreciate children far more than adults. I shouldn't have to explain why…. they just haven't lost what so many of us grown ups did a long time ago.  Not to mention that for some strange reason, kids like me.  It's true.  Even though I hold them to ridiculously high standards and speak to them as if they were 41 years of age, they like me.  I'm glad about that.

I've spent the past three years vowing to quit my job at the end of my school year.  I know I said I like kids and I do.  But I also like not sweating.  I know it sounds trite, but I've always had to cover my tattoos in school, and you really don't know what hell feels like until you wear long sleeves, high collars and pants in Georgia heat every day and have to constantly endure being asked, "Aren't you hot?".   Ugh.   Besides, my job hasn't been so easy.   Part of my job description says somewhere that you have to maturely take verbal abuse and idiotic behavior from unreasonable adults.   I haven't actually seen it, but I'm certain it's in fine print and I just glossed over it.  I spent so many years in a career that I chose specifically because it was important for me to look how I pleased/ not have to compromise myself in any way and now I was dealing with this.  Maybe it shouldn't matter as much to me as it does, but I don't question it.  It's just how I am.

So I took an amazing job offer in January (which I'll delve into later this week) and went part time at the school.  I've been working two jobs, six days a week since then in order to fulfill my obligations at the school for the remainder of the year.  I've dreamt of this last day of work wistfully as I cussed the world out every day driving to and from school.  I'm supposed to be throwing a party, but true to myself, I'm not.   It's not even over until six o'clock this evening, but I'm already romanticizing the last few years…. and that's not an entirely bad thing.   There has been a lot of good in there, and this is my way of paying tribute to it.

I sat through the fifth grade graduation yesterday.  I've had lots of these kids in my program since they were six.  As I saw them, one by one, take the stage, I really could only try to not cry.  (it didn't work, my dignity was left somewhere on the cafeteria floor, I'm sure it's gone by now)  They all feel so grown but yet are still so young.  They all cheered for one another's accomplishments with a sense of camaraderie and joy…. forgetting their daily drama and conflicts, not realizing that everything will soon change for all of them.  They will lose their innocence.   The older they get, the more their camaraderie will splinter.  It's quite easy to tell which ones will fall into which social groups down the road, and like all of us, not all of them will have happy endings.  I know this, not because I am cynical, but because I'm a human being and that's life.  Besides, I've already seen my older son's set of peers grow up.  They are adults, and there are just as many, if not more, sad stories to tell than happy ones.   It's easy to dwell on all of that, but for once I allowed my affection and fondness for these kids (all of them for different reasons) to wash over me and I cried because of that, not because of the bad.

I have such a respect for those that make this their life's work.  Teachers know many children better than their parents do.  They put in countless hours of their personal time, dig deeper and deeper every year into their pocketbooks to supplement a failing system, give their all to make a difference in every young life they have in their classroom and do it all for shit pay.   I am honored to have been able to experience their world.  Never take these people for granted, folks.   You may not like all of your children's teachers, but I bet my ass you neither could, nor would, put up with half the crap they do.

I joined this school quietly.  I'll leave in the same fashion, many won't even realize what's happened until after I'm gone and that's ok.   Putting it here is good enough for me.   For all of my nomadic tendencies, when push comes to shove, I can have a tough time shutting a door and saying goodbye.  Today will be harder than I suspected, and I'll cry.  Bear with me, I do have a heart.   And when you see me in a sundress at the grocery store or in a short sleeve shirt volunteering in my kid's class next year, try not to look horrified.  Hold your judgements.  Remember that before you saw me this way, you developed a relationship with me and trusted me with your kids and I always took care of them and kept them safe.  It's not a bad life lesson to walk away with.

I'm truly happy to move on to the next phase of my life.  But honestly, for all the bitching and complaining that I've done, I would do it all again and not change a thing.   I'm not like most of my peers, and I'm aware that most did not know what to think of me and how to take me… that never changed for some of them.  But for the ones (staff AND parents)  that got to know me, embraced me, gave me kind words, hugs and appreciated my contributions and efforts (because I really do care about my job and those children), I am forever grateful.   I love you.   Thank you.   I don't typically show it, but your kindness has meant the world to me and touches my heart.   Believe me when I say that I will miss you.  I will miss your kids even more.  They've made me a better person.