As some of you may know, I am a preschool teacher. And I'd like to tell you about one of the most awkward conversations I've ever had with a parent*.
I teach twos and toddlers, which means lots of diapers. And there's this one child whose parents are latino and black. Now, something I have learned by changing the diapers of many ethnicities is that children with dark skin have poop lighter than themselves, and children with light to medium skin have poop darker than themselves. Then there is this small sliver of children whose poop is the exact same color as their skin.
Let it show that I am not saying their skin is the color of poop, I am saying that their poop is a similar color to their skin. Just a little crowbar in there.
Well, I am changing this child. And he has pooped... gloriously. If you're a parent, you know what I mean. And I have to clean him up, and I can't miss any. Because again, if you're a parent, you know that if you leave poop behind, it will do one, two, or all of three things: embarrass you, disgust you, and give them a rash.
And then there's Jizanthepus. If you've watched Louis CK, you may be familiar with this term. A Jizanthepus is... well let's say that preschool teachers love all their kids. And some of them make it more difficult than others.
Anyway, Jizanthepus is one of those kids who will do exactly what you're asking them not to, while mad-dogging you. And it doesn't matter what you say to him. No amount of "Jizanthepus. Excuse me Jizanthepus. Mister Jizanthepus! Jizanthepus no thank you! *Gasp* Jizanthepus! Danger, danger!" is going to convince him to do what you're asking.
Jinzanthepus doesn't care. Jizanthepus is convincing all of his friends to go be Jizanthepuses with him. Jizanthepus is Lord of the Goddamned Flies. And the worst part: he knows it. He knows that I'm changing a diaper. He knows that nothing he does will cause me to walk away from the child strapped to the changing table, and there I am, all alone in the classroom with him, my changing kid, and five Jizanthepuses in training.
And so, I meet his eye, and use the only resource left to me as a teacher. Because if I make a threat in front of the whole class, I better be prepared to follow through with.
"Jizanthepus, I swear to Christ, if you don't stop this instant you will be the VERY LAST to have snack!"
And that's when his mother walked in.
*This story is not true, but is inspired by real children I teach.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Millions of people marched today in solidarity with women around the world, and in protest of the rhetoric of the most recent US presidential election. Many of those people were my friends, and I thank and celebrate you all, and applaud your efforts and the way you exercised your first amendment rights today.
I did not march today, not because I don’t support the cause, or because I’m not an activist, or even because I don’t support the goals of the organization. I stayed home for my safety. I’m extremely claustrophobic in crowds, and my network of people who can bail me out in this new city I live in should arrests be made is nill. Many friends posted Senator Warren’s warning, which listed that you should have a going to jail plan, which I definitely didn’t. And so, things being how they are, I stayed home and cheered from the sidelines, researching next steps and possible female candidates to follow in 2018.
All of this would have been fine, except that a person took it upon themselves to question my activism. To chide my anxiety. To shame me.
Let me first say that nobody has the right to tell anyone else how to spend their spoons. If you don’t know what that means, check out Spoon Theory. But back to my point, it is not your role or your job to tell any adult how they should be spending their energy. Maybe your spouse or your children, but even then they may tell you where to go.
Second, not all activism looks the same. Some attend marches. Some write letters, or speeches, or songs. Some go to city council meetings. There are as many ways to be an activist as there are activists, and there’s no such thing as a wrong way to do it, except not doing it at all.
And finally: behold the problem with our rhetoric in political discussion. You have to agree with me. Not only that, you have to agree with me on all of these different intersections of politics, behavior, science, and logic. Not only that, you have to agree with me in the specific way I want you to, otherwise we disagree and you’re wrong and also Hitler.
Does this sound familiar? Because I am tired of it. So very weary. And to use a phrase which has been beaten to death since November 9th, if you think and act this way, you’re part of the problem.
Spoiler alert: most people don’t agree 100% with everything on their party’s platform. People have different views on different topics, and varying degrees of importance for different topics as well. Some people *really* care about the economy, while some *really* care about social issues, while some *really* care about the environment, and most people don’t have enough energy to care about all of them equally, and certainly not all at the same time.
We need to stop thinking that there is a Right Way to be a Democrat. A Republican. An American. A Person. People disagree. People agree and still act differently from each other. People given the same information as you may reach a different conclusion. It doesn’t mean either of you is wrong or right. Because as I’ve said entirely too much lately, it’s all about worldview.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Lord, let me lift these children to the light.
Let me always have gentle hands, a gentle voice, a gentle soul, and a gentle heart.
Let me find patience when I am tested
Let me find forbearance when I am challenged
Let me find hope when I am weary
Lord, let me fill my cup with love and let it flow as milk and honey from your promised land over the heads, hearts, bodies, and minds of the children entrusted to my care.
Let me always speak peace and forgiveness in times of struggle and trials
Let me always show creativity and imagination when faced with obstinance and boredom
Let me always inspire loyalty when faced with discontent and mutiny
Let me remember when I am tested that help is ready for those who ask it, and let me always find a way to be my best self, whether seeking within or seeking without.
Let me lift these minds, hearts, and souls in love, kindness, understanding, and curiosity. Let me instill compassion and empathy, and dispel fear and resentment.
And dear lord, let me always remember that these tiny hearts are the future, and I need only to show them their true selves, that their light may shine upon the world.