Friday, November 16, 2012

The teenage mind, and my soapbox

I'm a high school teacher.  I have taught elementary and middle also.  I pretty much liked it all, but middle school was awesome, and high school is definitely pretty sweet.  I'm a reading specialist, though, so you can imagine what kids think about being in my classes in high school.  Understandable...

And, let's be honest, I'm not as young as I used to be (shoot! how did THAT happen!?!?!).  I have been catching myself recently thinking about how students should "know better" and be "thinking about their futures" and blah blah blah.  Well, slap me silly!  Have I MET MYSELF????

I remember when I was in middle and high school.  I did care about my grades, and graduation, but whatever was going on socially was paramount.  School was difficult for me for a while, compounded by the true confession that whatever was going on with friends (in the small social life that I actually had), always seemed like the most important, or the most insurmountable issue ever.  Academics just dropped to number two (well, not to poop, just to second on the totem pole:).  You know I can't resist a little toilet humor... but I digress... I think (I know, we all know) that is just the way the mind of an adolescent works.  Their psychological development is such that they are the center of their universe.  That's not a dig, just the real deal.  And for a while there, in my teaching career, I realized this, remembered it, and relied on it to keep me grounded.  It also helped me remember not to take things (such as students not remembering to do my homework) personally. 

So every time I climb on my little soap box, I think I need someone to backhand me right back off of it!  Of course, if you're thinking "I'll do it! I'll backhand you!  Pick me, pick me!" ya better get in line...  But seriously, is it annoying that sometimes kids expect that walking through the door of my classroom is enough? That by being physically present but not feeling like doing anything to better themselves will suffice?  Yeah, it is supremely obnoxious.  But it is also the nature of the beast.  So I guess I better pony up or peace out.  And we all know I'm not peacin'.... so giddy up!  Ride like the wind... I am SO glad it is Friday :) 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ignorance: Alive & Well

My kids are bi-racial.  They are half Korean, and half... well... mutt.  White.  Whatever.  Caucasian to be exact.  Sometimes, when I have them out with me, and my husband isn't with me, people will ask questions.  I don't mind at all!  I love my kids. I think they are fabulous... please, ask about them!  Once, at a consignment sale, a lady said, "Where did you get your babies?"   To which I replied, without thinking, "Korea!"  She said, "really?"  I responded, "Well, yeah, Korea and my uterus.  They are bi-racial.  My husband is from Korea"  She promptly apologized, telling me that her babies were from South America, and mine looked similar to hers.  I just laughed, and told her not to worry.  I was happy to have someone notice their beautiful skin tones.  Questions like that, I don't mind. It is understandable that people might think my children are adopted.  And I would be proud if they were, of course, as adoption is the best gift you can give to a child.  I like that people notice differences.  After all, both my husband and I have adoption in our families (that's how he got here!), and we celebrate all sorts of different family make-ups.  And let's be honest... my kids are cute (in my own, extremely biased opinion)!

However, some people have less than celebratory things to say about my kids.  And I don't think they mean it at all.  But on two occasions, I have been extremely shocked (and somewhat appalled)...

Once, when the boy was about 5 months old, I was at the lab getting a blood draw.  My friend (his God Mother) was holding him in the lobby so I could go get stuck.  When I came out, the receptionist said, "Awww, your baby is so cute!"  To which I replied, "Thanks!"  But could she leave it at that?  Nooooooo... she continued, "He's so cute! He has chinky eyes."  I don't even know how to spell that word, but the point is REALLY?!?!?!?!?!? YOU JUST SAID MY BABY HAS CHINKY EYES?????????  Seriously.  I looked at her, and smiled, and said, "Well, that's because his father is Korean..."  She was mortified.  Apologizing all over herself...  Good.  Her embarrassment was a necessary side effect of her ignorance.

Fast forward a few years to when I am daycare shopping.  I show up with the girl this time, and begin the tour of the daycare.  In conversation, I mention that the girl is half Korean, which is why she doesn't look like me.  To this, the daycare provider replies, "Well, that's okay!"  Really?  Okay?  Because I definitely was not just APOLOGIZING for the race of my own child.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Before we speak, maybe we ought to think. Agreed?