TBT – A Snapshot of Working for a Passive-Agressive Supervisor

Through the window on the other side of the library, I could see into the fifth grade Social Studies classroom, where the lacrosse coach, Dennis, who’d been hired the same week I had, was readying his classroom. His degree was in Phys-Ed, but the school was on a mission to create teacher-coaches that year, a two-birds-with-one-salary kind of deal. I had been promised an eventual shot at being promoted from the library to the classroom, and mistakenly thought that this fifth grade Social Studies position that opened up mid-year would be it. But, I figured, rubbing my belly as the baby kicked, that it wasn’t my time. But still, I longed for a ticket to my teaching career train, and even more importantly, out of the library.

Helen came out of her office then, sidling up to me quietly in her navy blue Talbots suit and matching Naturalizer flats at the circulation desk. She looked at Dennis, pinning up a map of pre-World-War-I geography on the bulletin board of his new classroom and figured that the two of us were of one mind on the lacrosse coach. She also had territorial feelings about the classroom, though hers were based on the fact that it had once been a small-group-study room in the library.

“Can you believe they gave him that job?” she asked, her voice heavy with disgust.

“No,” I said sheepishly, feeling a little guilty about my desire to run from her as fast as I could.

Helen, who did nothing but surf the Internet from the confines of her office all day. Helen, who worried that the school didn’t appreciate her because it had cut the library from seven MLS-degreed librarians when she started ten years ago to just her today…left with me, an ambitious future-teacher, a so-called assistant, in her mind, not really even a librarian. And what if they decided to let me go? Or worse, what if they did actually move me to teaching? Where would she be then? They might decide to cut back further and leave her with no assistant. Not only would she have to do all the work herself, but she also might then be support staff to me as a teacher. Helen, who made sure to make it seem like she couldn’t do it all alone, by making certain that I did all the work. Helen, who made my life hell.

“I mean, you could do that job.” She said it in a way that wasn’t like she thought I was perfect for the job, in fact her condescending  inflection of the word “you” made it sound as if the job was so remedial that even a pleb like me could perform the tasks required.

I scoffed, “Ya,” since after all, I had a degree in history and was just a student-teaching semester away from getting a teaching certificate in the field. A student-teaching semester I had foregone by reluctantly taking this job after the principal himself had promised me not only a student teaching semester here, but the possibility of a future teaching career at the school.

“But you don’t want that job,” she said dismissively, looking down and the roundness of my belly. “You want a nothing job like you have now.”

“Excuse me?” My back was UP. Did she want to go to the mattresses? First of all, how the hell would she know what I wanted? That she would even presume to know was offensive, but that she thought my job was nothing? My job, which was the job of checking in and out the books, re-shelving them, cataloging new books that came in, dealing with the students’ needs and helping them find the materials they needed for their research projects, or the right work of fiction they might enjoy reading? That was a nothing job compared to sitting in a little glass cubicle watching me do all those things over the top of her computer monitor? Who did she think she was?

She must have sensed, despite her complete lack of usual perception, that I was a bit miffed by her statement, because she tried to explain it to me. “You know, with the baby coming,” she said and then repeated, “you’ll want a nothing job like this in the Fall.”

And then she turned and went back into her office. And I sat there like a cartoon character, a little wisp of smoke over my head.

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Another reason why penmanship and spelling are so important…

Pulled this out of my second-grade daughter’s “daily” folder.

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Took me a second to realize how facting hilarious it is.


Dress to Impress Day

It’s Spirit Week at Edison’s school, and the theme for today is “Dress to Impress.” Yesterday was “Wear Orange” (It had something to do with an anti-bullying campaign), and Monday was “Dress like a Twin Day.” Edison pulled out his spiffiest duds for today’s occasion. Unfortunately, these include the sport jacket that he wore for his First Holy Communion four years ago. They are a size 8, and he is a firm 12-almost-14. I tried to dissuade him, to tell him that he looked silly, but then an argument began, and I thought, you know what, if he were The Princess, I would have given up at the first protestation. If she’s taught me anything, it’s to pick my battles, and what you are wearing is not worth fighting. So I let him go, even though he kind of looked like this:

Just hoping some of that anti-bullying rhetoric stuck to the ruffians in his middle school population yesterday.


What are they teaching you people?

 

Yesterday I was talking to my boys about the book I had just finished, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. (Great book, btw, highly recommend.) They asked me what it was about, so I said that it was about a bunch of people in New York City around the time that a guy walked between the World Trade Center Towers.

Philippe Petit walked between the towers in August of 1974. He crossed back and forth six to eight times during a span of forty minutes. His story is told in the film Man on Wire.

 

 

I thought this feat was totally amazing, but my kids just stared back at me blankly.

“You know the World Trade Center?”

Nnnnope.

The two towers that were destroyed on September 11th?

Nnnnope.

Not a bell rung there. Kind of reminded me of one time when I mentioned Jim Jones to my sister, who was born in 1971, and she had never heard of him either. She said that she would have been watching the Banana Splits in 1978, and she seriously doubted that they would have interrupted that programming to bring news of a mass murder/suicide to their audience.

I realize that my kids are young; Edison was only a year old when the towers fell, and I can remember him toddling around us as we watched the TV and wept for (among many things) his future. But I would think that in all the flag waving and patriotism we get every year around September 11th, there would be some discussion of why we remember that day. Shouldn’t there be?

I do know one thing: Next September, when we commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11th, there will be some discussion around this house.

 


Silly Bandz make some kidz do silly things

Clooney began collecting Silly Bandz this summer. I cannot say when these things first put their rubbery feet through our door, but it built and built until he amassed a gallon-sized Ziploc bag full of them. I don’t buy them; he gets them at parties or at camp, and he’s been known to spend his allowance on them, at least until the Series 2 LEGO mini-figures were released a few weeks ago. But his eyes still get all glassy when he sees them in a store. The combinations of shapes, colors and other features (i.e. glow in the dark, tie-dyed, or sparkly) continue to mesmerize him whenever we pass a rack of them. And they are EVERYWHERE.

I have allowed it without encouraging it, because he’s into it, and because ultimately they are no more harmful than collecting baseball cards (though not as intellectually appealing), but I was a little disturbed yesterday when he came home and showed me two new ones on his wrist.

“Guess where I got these,” he began proudly. “Lucy and Gina dropped their Silly Bandz on the floor at lunch, and a bunch of people picked them up and I got these two!”

“What do you mean??” I asked, highly concerned.

It happened, just as I had thought. Six kids swooped in and stole the girls’ Silly Bandz off the floor. You always imagine that your child will be Superman, or the hero, the one who steps in and tells the others that what they are doing, if what they are doing, is not the right thing. So, I was more than a little shocked when not only didn’t my son do that, but he was also an eager participant in the crime.  He and I had a long talk about what it meant, and how I saw the situation, and I hoped that he understood that what he had done was wrong and why. I tried to make him feel empathy for Lucy and Gina, and he promised to return the bracelets, but I wonder what he really learned. Did he learn that it’s wrong to do what he did, or did he just learn that it’s wrong to share stuff like that with Mom?

It’s a fine line. How do you teach kindness and morality, right and wrong, without choking the open line of communication between parent and child? Obviously, he’s never seen Manfrengensen or me take something that doesn’t belong to us, so it’s not a learn-by-example situation. I can only imagine that it will get tougher as he gets older and the pressure to really fit in plays a factor.

Have you had any experience with this kind of thing? Please share below if you have. Thanks.