September 14, 2017
Yes, it is time for me to begin again. I NEED TO WRITE TO STAY SANE! The sooner I learn that, the better. The following is a letter I wrote today. I thought I could start off with this. See you tomorrow!
September 14, 2017
Good Morning Colleagues,
This is my Random Act of Kindness to all of you. I’d rather just call it being a kind person because seriously, when did being kind fall so out of favor that we actually had to give it a title? Next thing you know, kindness will have its own holiday! But, I digress…
To start off, please call me Vickie. I’ve noticed that teachers tend to call each other by their teacher moniker, which is proper of course. However, how would I address you were I to see you in public? Well, that won’t be a problem, because as soon as we see one of our colleagues in public who we really don’t know (nor want to know) we try and avert our eyes, as if we didn’t see each other. And if the gods are angry with us that day, and our eyes meet, we smile weakly and mumble something like, “Uh, hi, Ms. So-and-So,” and walk away, cursing the gods. Now, not all of us do that to one another, we only do that with the people we have put in our, “Never Want To Know That Colleague” category. And let me tell you, I’m pretty sure I would win that popularity contest…”And coming in at number one in our Hit Parade, with 77 mentions, Ms. Kunzmann! Hold your applause, folks, remember, we don’t really want to know that colleague.”
I’m kidding, but only a little.
My parents taught me to never address someone by their first name unless invited to do so…so I don’t. But the reverse is also true, so please, call me Vickie.
A little bit about my background: I’m a Libra, I like long walks on the beach…gotcha! Kidding, I mean, I am a Libra, but I prefer the mountains. On a purely social level, I’ll tell you a little about myself. This is not some purging session in which I reveal I used to turn tricks and I once studied to become a nun (all true by the way..maybe). No, I just want you to know where I’m coming from in my life.
I’ve had five children, and any observant person would notice I used the past tense. My oldest daughter, Jessica, passed away when she was almost three years old, her twin brother, my son Joseph, is now almost 33 years old, married with one daughter, and living in Kuwait, doing “something” for our government. He is allowed to come home once a year, which means I didn’t meet my granddaughter until she was 2. And no, his wife is not Kuwaiti, she is American.
I also have one more son who is married with two sons, living in Phoenix, a daughter, Ana, married, pregnant (!) living in Florida (ahhhh!), and a daughter Emily who is married, one son and living in Seattle. I also have an additional 111 children this year that I love just as much!
Yes, I do love my students as I do my own children, because after all, they love me like my own children love me…and we treat each other just as mother and child. Now, some may disagree, but this works for me. Not only am I a good mother, I am a good teacher. There is no way my own children would listen to me unless they trusted me, it took a minute, but they finally got it. When they were children, they hadn’t the slightest clue what respect looked like, I had to show them and sometimes beat it into them (another joke). I had to teach them and prepare them and give them the tools to survive in the world on their own; no mama’s boy sleeping on my couch…ever! I hugged them when they needed it, and I hugged them even more when they didn’t. I was tough, firm and fair. “No, you can’t bring your boyfriend upstairs.” “Yes, I will sit down and talk to you about your problem.” “No, I will not do your homework for you.” “Yes, I will let you fail, but I will never let you fall.”
These also work with my students. My own children do not remember that it was I that taught them how use a fork, but I did. And my students will never remember that I taught them how to write a proficient paragraph, but I did that, too. But my children and my students remember how I made them feel. I can get so angry at them that I sometimes cuss (sorry Walt). I sometimes embarrass them in front of their friends. And when I am wrong, I apologize…and I am wrong a lot! I also don’t trust them at this age, that is why I verify…trust but verify.
I am also a rule-follower, mostly. So, I expect my students to be rule-followers, mostly. Look, I know they are not allowed to wear non-BCJH outerwear in class, but I keep my classroom unusually cold. I tell my young lady students that it is something they have to look forward to in the future. And when that time comes, I hope they remember me. So, I might let them break that rule once in a while. However, if another teacher asks them to comply, I will always side with the teacher…ALWAYS. Children should know their place. And they should never (at least in my world) be allowed to pit one adult against another.
Finally (huge sigh of relief for some of you, I’m sure), I treat my students as my own because children have a funny way of growing up. They become adults and they have their own families and they move away or at least into a different house! And I want them to feel confident enough in their skills to survive. Some of my “children” won’t go to college, so they need to learn how to survive in a different way. I teach them that, too.
But, ahhhhh, move away they do. My four living children and I have not all been together in the same place at the same time since 2009. Once the first one leaves, it goes pretty fast. It used to make me so sad that none of my children lives very close to me. And I was wallowing in self-pity one day as I spoke to my daughter Ana, “None of my children loves me enough to want to be near me! I’m all alone and you all had such a horrible mother that you couldn’t get away fast enough!” And I heard her roll her eyes at me, and she replied, “Mom, we’re just doing what you taught us to do, we’re going out and changing the world!” And she was right, I teach them all that they are going to go out and change the world.
I love them fiercely. But in no universe is a 52 year-old woman and a junior high student equal…never! As I tell my children, all 116 of them, “I’m not your friend, I’m not your buddy, and I’m not your pal. So you will address me as such!” But please, you may call me Vickie.