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Saturday, August 2, 2014

"Peace"


As a substitute teacher, I learned that if I came into a room bothered about stuff, the kids were terrors.  If I spread a layer of calm in the room, the kids were angels.

I had one trouble-making girl in multiple classes.  One day I watched Jessica with more detachment than I usually had towards her chaos, then called her to the teacher's desk while the rest of the class worked on their projects.  "You have a lot of charisma", I said.  "What's that?!", she demanded.  Obviously she thought I was criticizing.  "Charm.  You're pretty, smart, and people look to you because you've got something special. When you've got that kind of power, it's up to you to decide what to do with it." 

She looked confused.  I'm sure she thought she was in trouble when I called her to the desk.  "Just think about it.  You can be anything you want, and life in middle school is just a blip in your life.  Use your charisma for something good."

"I get bad grades."  Her head dropped and she looked miserable and ashamed.  "That's only one kind of smart.  You have to be smart to cause this much trouble.  Besides, if you put as much energy into your schoolwork as you did into getting in trouble your grades would be better."  I could see her thinking hard.

Months later, I saw her helping another kid with his lessons.  She glanced up and we understood each other.  I smiled and she looked proud.  My heart swelled.  It's one of the good things I've done in my life.  I found more kids to help in similar ways.

I was a good substitute teacher because I could have these kinds of little moments with bigger impact.  I think I'd be terrible at the long haul of a regular classroom where I might be expected to keep it up.  I wasn't always at the top of my game, but I cared about those kids.  If political leaders cared about kids, would they be bombing them?  Oh, but those kids don't look like my kids.  Yeah?  Well kids are kids.  They all have potential.  When you hurt them, they grow up and cause more hurt in the world.  I just want to scream "Stop it!  Stop it!  Stop it!"

Yesterday I listened to someone describing what another teacher said about his students.  There wasn't anything good in it, and he shouldn't be a teacher.  He's causing harm that goes beyond however much math he teaches them.  He thinks he's better than "damned Mexicans" and can't see his attitude makes him ugly.

I'm upset about the bombing and shooting in the world.  See your enemy as a person, and maybe you can see a solution to your differences.  That's true in the big world, and it's true in our personal lives.  On a good day I can de-escalate the drama around me.  On a bad day I can make it worse.  Mostly I want peace on the small and grand scale.
 
People have been getting to me lately and I've been having a harder time trying to get along.  Sometimes I need to remember that I know a little understanding upfront makes for a better life in the long haul.  I escaped to the river at lunch yesterday to get my feet under me.  It did my heart good to see kids playing in the water.

18 comments:

  1. As usual, your writing is the best! I believe that a little understanding does go along way; since experiences, society and tradition can be so different for all of us. I think that what we come up against or for when we talk to others, especially those that we think are so different from us. I must say, too! I do love your photography, these pictures evokes such peace.

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    1. Thanks Indigene! I think the kids made the photography this time :)

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  2. "Months later, I saw her helping another kid with his lessons. She glanced up and we understood each other. I smiled and she looked proud." A gem of a moment. We wait and hope for these to happen. Kudos Linda. Liked the "egg rocks" visual too. Very apropos.

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    1. Sometimes I think the key to happiness is recognizing those gems when they happen. I can only hope that Jessica's life is turning out well.

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  3. A great post, Linda. If kids - and people in general - feel they are cared for and being respected, most likely they will return the effort. I was a substitute teacher in my younger days as well, and I tried to take the students/pupils as they were without prejudice and found that I could handle classes that other teachers had given up on. And yes, if we extent this thought of yours to a world scale, to politics and grown-up behaviour, I think the world would have looked quite differently. Less wars and less killing and hate. Thank you, Linda.

    On a different note: I hope you have had a great summer. I have been away for some time, but it was very nice returning to your wonderful, inspiring blog. Enjoy the last weeks of the summer, Linda!

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  4. I haven't had as much fun as you've been having Otto. I seriously need to rectify that too! Somehow I'm not surprised that you did substitute teaching too. I'll bet you were great at it.

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  5. What a great post for peace. It never gets any easier trying to get along with people. I often wish I could electro shock the bad memories out of my mind.

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    1. I know the feeling Sharon. I'm just not sure that they wouldn't shock out the happier memories too. Besides, the bad memories are part of what makes us... I don't know, maybe "more" than we'd be if we got everything we wanted?

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  6. Your blog is always an open window, an invitation to breeze. Pleased to be here. When it gets harder to get along with folks a river does you good. Away every summer, and growing up in the city that always proved true. Thanks for reminding me. There is a river I shall visit soon enough, not far from here... Be well.

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    1. Thanks! I hope you do visit your river soon!

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  7. Your substitute teacher interaction with the charismatic girl was *brilliant* Linda. How wonderful to introduce the concept of "choice" to one so young!

    Here in my own life and looking around me at others' lives, both near and distant, I see that the pressure is really kicking in at this time on our planet. It's very painful to experience and to watch... Searching for answers, I've been pondering this quote from the American mystic, Joel S. Goldsmith, lately:

    "The solution to every situation or difficulty is to be found in your own consciousness."

    Could it really be so simple?

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    1. Maybe? I almost wrote about the collective unconscious for this post and how we're all tied into the world events going on. Guess we're really on the same wavelength?

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  8. Oh, definitely on the same wavelength, my dear. :-)

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  9. I love this story of yours the best, Linda. Jessica will likely always remember you for your gift.

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  10. Love the Jessica story, Linda! YOU should be the proud one!

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  11. Thanks everybody! I received a gift in the process too. Win/win :)

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  12. I must say, you do great things with rocks.
    Glad you found peace in your visit to the river, Linda. Everybody could benefit from more moments like these!

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  13. Thanks Michele! I needed to go back to the river because I didn't get enough of it for my head.

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