Friday, January 23, 2015

Facing demons

Today I attended a funeral. This was the second Friday afternoon I had spent at the Jewish funeral parlor. Last week, it was a great-uncle, aged 91, who had a long and healthy life. He will be mourned and missed, but it was very expected.

This week it was my second-grade teacher whose daughter was in my class.

Without going into excessive detail--although I'm sure it has been mentioned before--elementary school was a traumatic experience for me. I was bullied and rejected by students and teachers alike for being too much this and not enough that. Who even knows or cares anymore? All that matters is, my children will never attend that school.

My second grade year was my first year attending the school where I would go through the end of sixth grade, and it was the only year in my recollection where I did NOT want to throw myself out the window of that school. Which had two stories and a basement, so what would be the point?

Anyhow, my mom was very impressed with my second grade teacher. Everything was done in such a way as to make me feel as though she knew me and cared about me. I still remember my very first spelling pretest. I correctly spelled all the regular words, all the bonus words, and the elephant word, "constitution." And I felt really special.

I knew it would be hard to go to this funeral. I have been dealing with the reality of having more and more of my peers lose their parents. This teacher was four years younger than my mom. She was the same age as my mother-in-law, who died after a lengthy illness.

I'm not sure which is worse.

The other difficulty in attending this funeral was seeing people who reminded me of my miserable school experience from whence this teacher came even though her class was a decent place. It reminded me that the things that stick with us from our childhood are likely forgotten by those adults who were there. Not that I don't remember anything that happened during interactions with my students or my own children, but I would imagine that I've glossed over my fair share. And if I hurt any feelings of students, or my own little ones, by not validating their experiences, I am sorry.

We talked this evening about some of these eventualities. It's not pleasant, but it is a part of being a grownup.

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