Saturday, November 19, 2011
Just because I'm losing, doesn't mean I'm lost
You ever have a week that causes you to have to muster up every bit of strength and courage, strength you did not even know you possessed? I had one of those weeks. The worst possible thing that can happen to a teacher happened to me this week. Allegations. Child abuse allegations against me. Fuck.
On Monday a grandparent that was already feeling unsettled about her grandchild's education, (in reality I think the child being removed from her custody and back into custody of parent that had lost custody originally due to abuse was probably more of the issue) showed up in my classroom unannounced. Her grandson was belted into a wooden chair when she showed up. This sounds bad. Let me explain. Rifton Compass chairs are wooden chairs with a contoured seat and curved arms and are incredibly comfortable. I have 2 in my classroom. One has a seatbelt on it and sometimes the kids like to sit in it. This particular child has clearly sat in this kind of chair in his preschool setting because he buckles himself in. Sometimes he can unbuckle it, sometimes he needs help. We always help him if he wants out.
In her mind, her grandson was being restrained. Thursday, which was also the day of our big Thanksgiving feast that we put on every year for the kids, I had an emergency meeting to discuss this. At 10:30. The other teacher that had planned the feast, AND invited all the parents of her class, conveniently took the week off, leaving it all to fall on my narrow shoulders. We expected to feed over 50 people at noon.
At the meeting, my principal, assistant superintendent, occupational therapist, and I tried to explain the chair to this woman, whom, it became very clear at that point, was more than a little nuts. She bashed me, my program, my teaching style, everything that I pride myself at being good at. Inside I felt beaten, emotionally raw, and ready to crawl in bed, pull the covers over my head, and never return to the classroom again. On the outside, however, I triumphed. I remained calm and professional. I did not argue. I listened. I expressed to her that I honored her opinion. I told her what would change. I never admitted doing anything wrong. I fucking smiled, for God's sake. The meeting lasted up until 5 minutes before my feast. By that time, she was stating what a great teacher I was and we had agreed to try this again, minus the seatbelt.
When I arrived, late to my classroom, the amazing women that work as teachers aides in my classroom, and the classroom next door, plus my speech therapist, secretary and school psychologist had the feast in full swing. The kids were excited, and all ran to me, telling me how much they missed me, hugging me, and I felt incredibly blessed to have this job. And the first time I cried about this horrific experience is now, as I write this. All I can say is that a lot of people had my back that day. At the risk of sounding like I am prostalyzing, God works in mysterious ways.