Biting Heads

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org

I’ve officially retired from my teaching position. This year I am doing some volunteer work at my same school in reading intervention. Some days I miss the everyday joys of teaching fulltime, but most of the time during this pandemic, I’m just thankful I don’t have to walk through all the crazy 2020 is throwing at teachers. Like this week the teachers prepare for their first student-led presentations on Zoom starting tomorrow, plus a visit from the BQA, the Ministry of Education’s quality assurance assessment. Both are adding to the already stressful nature of teaching in-person and virtually–in four different class groups. Some of my colleagues are teaching two grade levels–eight groups, four classes a day, with over a hundred children total.

So, today I am thankful that beside the Coronavirus stress we all carry, I only have mild stressors in my life this year. Like yesterday it was forgetting to get the grocery list from one of the people without a job we were going to serve through the outreach team. When I realized I had neglected to call her two days before, I made a quick call–no answer. So I made initial contact with a text. I copied and pasted and sent her a previous message I had written earlier in the week, but I forgot to edit it, so I sent the wrong name in the salutation. OK. That blunder was embarrassing and causing me momentary stress as I was trying to delete it before she saw it, and also make contact with her to get her list before my team went shopping in a less than an hour.

Enter my husband for lunch. He went to the kitchen sink and saw the morning breakfast dishes filling the dish tub. Next to that was the previous day’s dishes piled high in the dish drainer, puzzled together precariously.

He took a deep breath and sighed as he started to put the dishes away. Again he breathed–maybe yoga breathing–trying to compose himself and not say anything. But after a few deep breaths and sighs, I exploded.

I responded. “What is wrong with you? Stop breathing. Do you want me to do them? Just stop showing me how angry you are with your self-righteous deep breathing.”

He, “I just have a short time for lunch today.”

“OK, stop putting the dishes away. I said I would do it. I will. Can’t you fix your lunch with dishes in the drainer? How many times do you have to shout at me with your breathing. It’s obvious you think I should have done the dishes, oh high and mighty one. What is wrong with you? Why don’t you act like Jesus? Would Jesus put the dishes away? Or would he just fix his lunch while smiling and greeting me pleasantly? Blah, blah, blah.”

I thought of the quote about getting bumped and having what’s inside spill out–it could have been love and grace, but in my case this day, it was anger and sarcasm.

Fortunately, at this time in my life those outbursts are rare. I couldn’t help but think about the stressors in my life just a year ago, even before the pandemic. Teaching school is a never-ending flow of creativity and learning, sweet relationships and assisting young people in growing as learners. Yet, there is an everyday barrage of extra administrative requirements that don’t seem to help children, as well as unfulfilled hopes and unmet expectations, daily to-do lists never completed. I know over my years of stressed-out teaching there have been many outbursts like this directed at my husband, but also at others. I am not very sanctified when I get bumped, which I think is a true test of my character.

Before my husband went back to his office, I apologized for biting his head off. He, of course, accepted and offered his own, as well. I am so thankful we do not stay angry at each other.

8 thoughts on “Biting Heads

  1. Denise, thank you for sharing your pandemic outburst moments. It sounds like me when the stressors have reached a high. I think sharing our experiences help each other know that stress is such a deterrent to our health and these too will pass. I wish you a wonderful holiday period and new year hopes for a less stressful life.

  2. There is grace in sharing and admitting to one’s mistakes. Often people want to show the best side of them. Your slice shows how human you are. I appreciate it.

  3. “Puzzled together precariously” is a wonderful phrase that evokes a clear image. It’s also an apt parallel for the feelings you describe at this time–balanced (for now) until bumped. This layered imagery heightens the heart of this (very relatable) narrative. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Amy, thank you. That is a really good insight. I didn’t think of it, but I like it. Yes, my emotions are quite puzzled precariously together these days. Thank you!

  4. Oh, Denise! I stopped on this post because I wanted to congratulate you on your retirement! And then… and then I read it… and I laughed out loud – a good, hearty “I can totally relate” laugh! And then I read the comments that followed – oh, I wish I could express my gratitude for your posts in ways others have. So… CONGRATULATIONS!! And… Thank you! Love to you both from both of us. xo

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