“Was it hard?” I ask.
Not as hard as holding on to something that wasn’t real.”
― Lisa Schroeder
I have said before that this is the job that will break your heart, over and over, each and every day. I realized the other day that my time at this job is limited, being that I resigned about two weeks ago, effective the last day of the school year.
Memory is unreliable, so I have decided to try to write down as many things as I can; to keep these things here in the blogosphere until a later date when, I hope, I do something with the information and the stories.
Why did I resign my position? On paper, it is because we are moving to Maine, and that is true.We are moving to Maine and I am very happy about it: so is Cody. But the question from many people is why are you moving to Maine? There are many reasons: life changes, nature, scenery, community. But there is a truth that our jobs have become untenable and so stressful that I feel they have temporarily (I hope) changed our personalities and our way of interacting with others and each other.
On Friday I watched a student cut herself with pieces of a mug that she smashed on the brick wall of the calm room she was in (I didn’t realize the mug was there). She is 9 years old. I watched as a police officer and a nurse came in to speak with her. I stood outside, shocked and saddened.
Right now there is a little boy, age 7, in my co-APs office crying. He has been crying for over 30 minutes: wails, sobs, hollers, screams.
I can’t find reliable staff for the two classrooms that serve the children with emotional disturbance. The one who cut herself has had over 5 crises at school. Her parent is trying his best, I think, but he is also coming at this problem of living with a person (her deceased mother) who had substance abuse disorder, and no doubt, has his own deck stacked against him.
The public schools aren’t designed for this; we don’t have the resources or the knowledge to help. Even the “behavior specialists” from our district don’t seem to understand what to do with some students. It is this endless stream of trial-and-error, emphasis on trial.
My heart is broken. I feel depressed. Depression is not a familiar feeling for me, so I think that this is temporary. Anxiety and I are good friends, but depression no. I feel so heavy, as if I have no energy to do anything. I feel hopeless. I feel like I am doing everything I can for this kid and I am doing very little because there is little to be done.
I keep thinking about myself at 9; it was 1989 and my parents hadn’t lost all their money yet and we lived in this big house with a pool. I used to do my homework in a raft in the pool. I loved that pool; it had a waterfall made of rocks and one was so big that you could dive off it. The house had a screened-in porch on the second story and a hidey-hole room under the stairs. I used to sit in there and read with a lightbulb on a string glowing in the dark. While we lived in that house, my parents bought a ton of stuff including this really awesome stereo that I still wish they hadn’t gotten rid of! Shortly though, the money disappeared as fast as it had came and we had to sell off our belongings, cars, and then the house itself. We left private school and went to public school. My dad had a nervous breakdown and was never the same. Our family was never really happy ever again when we were together for too long; we could sustain a couple of hours but that was it.
That experience of watching my parents lose all their money and then lose their focus and happiness changed my life. It made me understand life differently, and as I aged, to commit to certain values. One of them is to not be attached to things, despite being a loving collector of weird objects. One of them is that it is important to listen to your heart.
I listened to my heart here back in September when the 5 year old brough a loaded gun to school. I resigned in my heart that day. But between then and now have been so many things that have happened that have just hurt this heart of mine. Perhaps hearts are like metal: the more they are hammered on, the stronger they are? I like to think so. I commit to never altering my love for children, despite the heartbreak. But, another thing I learned from my parents is that once you recognize dysfunction and an unwillingness to change, it is time to remove yourself from the situation and find one better suited.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.