Humanizing Teachers

It’s almost time for school to start here, in the lower parts of NC. Around this time of year, I generally read and hear about buying clothes for the upcoming school year and supplies the kids will need for classes.

On the Alt12 App BabyBump a mother asked Ina post, if other American families were paying school fees this year. At her children’s school, on top of supplies and clothes her children need, they pay $150 fee to go to public school. I had never heard of this so, I was intrigued. So I read on.

My curiosity turned to shock and then anger when the subject changed mid replies. The one that, “got my goat,” was this one:
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(The whited out portion is a repeated word due to the size of the reply and my phone screen captioning capabilities)

I was sufficiently outraged. Much of what she says is just plain incorrect, or ridiculous to ask some one to do. Nurses pay for uniforms so teachers should pay for ever student’s supplies for the year, when we also have to buy clothing to work in as well? It’s the same? Really? We should have realized how little we would make in the teaching profession and made another career choice?!

I mean really? There were more replies either defending teachers, or completely dehumanizing and lumping teachers together like computers or programmed robots:

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I was so outraged I composed a very lengthy post of my own. If you are on this app or a member of one of these forums you would know, you just don’t do that. Writing a post about a post (or comment) is taboo. I just couldn’t keep quiet. The way they made us sound, greedy, money hungry, idiotic, useless garbage… It struck me in my heart because I have felt that way before, teaching.

I want to share with you what I shared with them. I wrote:

“I grew up very poor and my parents made less than 35K a year, together for most of my life. We were so poor they used to chain up our fridge because us 3 kids were so hungry we’d eat all of the sticks of butter and leftover bread ends, because that’s all that was in the fridge. I wore shorts in December one year because we couldn’t afford pants for me and my older brother needed his. I wore an old sweatshirt as a coat until 4th grade. We were the Angel Tree recipients you guys talk about at Christmas. Without that, we would have not had Christmas a couple of times. I will always be grateful for those people that gave to us.

My parents told me never to dream of college, to set my sights on retail if I was very lucky. I worked retail for 6 years to get through school, but I wanted more. I wanted food in my kid’s fridge.

I got scholarships, I went to school, I paid my way with a some help from my grandmother. At 19, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called PIC. In 2005 it wasn’t really a top eye disease and not much was known about it. I just knew I was losing my vision like cookie cutters cutting out dough. But my brain is highly adaptive (apparently) and they were able to test unapproved treatments on me. We stemmed off any further damage with those painful injections in and behind the eye.

Then, almost done with school I start getting sick. Nothing horrific but I gained 70 pounds, and my hormones were out of balance. Doctors discovered an unrelated (to my eye disease) brain tumor. As I’ve written about, it has a host of unpleasant side effects including infertility.

At this point I was 24/25 when My tumor was discovered.

I got heathy, well as much as I could, and continued onto teaching. I was so relieved, I was finally a teacher! It was so important to me to achieve this goal because something had formed in my mind after all those student teaching experiences. Something important I had to do.

You see, when I was little I went to a school where they truly didn’t notice the students much. No one thought it was odd I was really and bruised by my mother’s fists. They didn’t want to know and nobody asked. No one noticed the signs of sexual abuse, and I gave those off like fireworks.

I vowed I would be different. I started my teaching journey in school thinking idealistic things about teachers; but by the end of student teaching I knew. I would notice them. I would see those bruises too close together to be anything but a row of fingers. I would notice the signs. I would care.

I make more money than my parents did 20 years ago but I make 20K less than the national average for teachers. I pay a lot of medical bills. I just pay a lot of bills, honestly.

And as a teacher, I buy school supplies every year for other people’s kids because some cannot afford it and some say to my face that I can. I am told that my department is unimportant everyday in some fashion, yet 3 students have unburdened themselves (finally) to me about sexual assaults and rape. I am so glad I noticed. I am so glad that I was there, that I didn’t lie to myself about being there for those like me. To care about them. (I am not bragging. I’d like to think this shows why teachers are needed.)

I am useless. Apparently. I should pay for supplies because I can afford it? I should have checked with the country’s pay for teachers and taken another career path, because who would want to do that on purpose? I should realize I signed up for poverty and enjoy it? Enjoy that my contract says I am entitled to step ups in pay almost every year so I can afford to have a family; but never receive those increases in pay? Yet others work other jobs and are allowed raises within the government section even, yet I should be okay with not getting one (some teachers have worked 7 years without an adjustment when they were supposed to have them)? I am only taking care of our future leaders, CEOs, Doctors, Freedom Fighters.

Do you see? I am a human being too!

You demean everything I have worked for, why? There are 1,000s more with even more difficult stories; teachers who have impacted more lives (I’ve been teaching only 3 years, forgive me) and you talk about teachers like dirt in your shoes.

I don’t understand why we must all be painted with this brush of hate.”

I go on to say I was sorry if I mixed metaphors and probably made all kinds of errors but I was too darn mad and tired to care. I left them with this:

“We are people. We have feelings and struggles. We do good things, can’t you see that most teachers do?”

I also hope you, dear readers see it too, that teachers aren’t the evils that broke the educational system. We are trying very hard to give our children a better future than our past.

I oddly enough received overwhelming supportive comments on my post. I was expecting a fight, I truly was. If anyone ever talks trash about teachers or, if you get frustrated about one, please remember, they are human too. Heck remember my story if you want. Just remember, we are people too.

As always, thanks for reading!

Night Time Wails- What Do You Do?

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Maybe you are already experiencing it, or maybe you will in the future, but deciding the division of labor, before you go into labor, is a good idea. Then after the baby comes, alter your decisions based on the actual reality before you.

How did I come to this conclusion? It all started late one night when my son was NOT behaving as the picture above suggests…

We had originally decided that when the baby cries at night, we would both wake up. Both of us would tend to the baby. One person, say, would take the cloth diaper off and clean it or separate it while the other would wipe down the baby tush and put on a new diaper. Something like that.

When the baby came, for two glorious weeks we worked in tandem waking up and caring for our son. Then my husband went back to work.

I was constantly exhausted, Breastfeeding was still in the painful beginning stages, 12 diapers a day to change alone, and waking up during the week alone for hours, feeding and changing and caring for our baby. I more than once fell asleep on CDubs. I am lucky I didn’t actually fall into him, I sleep sitting up very well.

I didn’t mind though, husband was at work. He woke up on the weekends and helped me. It was okay and summer was coming. I kept reminding myself help was coming and then I could sleep a little. Surely, I could sleep a little.

Then summer came and he stopped waking up with me. We had agreed, during the summer, we would both diaper and rock. Obviously I was the only one with the parts to feed, so that I had to do alone.

It became me doing everything alone, and my resentment grew. He would yell when I woke him up, complain about the lack of sleep and the pointlessness of waking up. Acting, in my opinion, much like our son.

I couldn’t handle it. I was staying up with the baby, barely sleeping, and he didn’t hold the baby during the day, I did. I was worn into nothingness.

So that fateful night, that I mentioned previously, I asked the ladies on the BabyBump Alt 12 App what to do. I was exhausted, surely they had insight. Surly no one was going through the same thing as I, because their spouse was doing the right thing!

My first question to them was, a poll to the Rants and Raves Forum. I wrote a poll with the question: “When you wake up to feed the baby your Significant Other, Spouse, Partner does…?

The results are as follows and delightfully free handed and graphed by the expert had of moi (try not to laugh too much!):
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4% were “Le Tired” and therefore could not answer my question.

6% said “I just have me to rely on, this question is not relevant to my situation.”

11% said “I have another answer that does not fit this poll, sorry.”

14% said “He/ She rolls over and goes back to sleep. No matter what I say or do, He/ She sleeps.

14% said “He/ She wakes up too. It’s our responsibility together to take care of our child.”

48% said “He/ She rolls over and goes back to sleep but wakes when I ask for help.

0% said “He/ She wakes up but won’t help me at all. He/ She just sits there doing other things or actually gets up and does other things.

So the winner of the poll was, while the other person may go back to sleep, they wake up to help when asked to wake up.

I wondered though, did that waking up come at a price? Were they yelled at by someone with a silly temper? Did the other person wake up to help because they were going to work soon anyway? So I made a post, the same night, and asked again what people did and explained my story. Here are some if their answers. I was mighty surprised at some:

busy.stra wrote:

I wake up with dear daughter, because I stay home, so I can get caught up on sleep when she naps during the day. On the weekends, when dear husband is home, he takes care of her when she wakes up for the day (around 6:30), so I can sleep in.

IslaModerator wrote:

I Breastfeed and he works full time plus overtime so that I can stay home in the first few years. So there is really no point in him getting up. It would only be out if sympathy as he can’t actually do anything to help. On his days off he will take the baby in the morning and play, feed EBM (Expressed Breast Milk) etc. and try to distract long enough to allow me a good sleep in. I really don’t see the point in 2 people waking up for 1 baby to be honest. Taking turns maybe, but no point everyone being awake.

Luvly565 wrote:

…I’ve never been a fan of the whomever works outside the home gets a full night sleep, while the stay at home mom gets none. I was the one driving my daughter around and taking care of her. There were days that I was so exhausted that I couldn’t walk straight and would run into walls. My mom came and helped then because I was in tests daily. I think both spouses should do what they can. Each couple will be different.

I received even more stories than these, some saying it was the wife’s duty to care for the baby alone. Some posts said basically it takes two to tango, so two should care for the baby. A couple suggested outside help.

Armed withy data, I confronted my husband. While my wishes were not the winner, neither was his wish to be left completely alone at night.

He still argued he did everything the way he felt it should be done. He felt he shouldn’t be woken up at all because the baby only wants food, when he wakes.

Which isn’t always the case.

I was stumped. My usually affable husband was being so contrary!

Finally one night after an event of complete ridiculousness, I learned that while my husband is tired, sometimes the reason your husband may not wake up or help you care for the baby, is not because he doesn’t want too.

The answer may not fit in a poll or post. I discovered, with the help of some astute BBers, that Ryan did not (and still, to a degree, does not) feel comfortable caring for our son alone. He was feeling insecure. Like I was somehow better equipped with knowledge he didn’t have. (Which is of course not true.)

I didn’t see that, insecurity, I was too tired. After talking to him again and explaining I am slowly dying of sleep deprivation, we came to a new accord.

I will wake up with the baby. Depending Ryan may wake up too. If I need him he may be a grumpy butted fool and I may be one in return, as long as CDubs is cared for.

In the mornings, Ryan will take CDubs down alone and play and care for him. There may be a bottle involved. I will get 4 or mess hours of sleep, depending on what my body wants.

If I want, I can wake up with CDubs first and let Ryan sleep for 4 or so hours.

If CDubs falls asleep on one of us that person may sleep or watch tv as they choose.

It’s certainly not perfect. It’s not what we originally planned. It took 153 women (combine poll and post) and men from BB to help us figure it out.

The most important thing is we planned, then we faced our reality and together we compromised and came to an accord.

Now we can both be sleepy together. CDubs is cared for by us both, and I think our little guy is happy. I know I feel better!

*A special thanks to the people who answered my poll and posts on BabyBump/PinkPad/Kidfolio!