Tuesday, June 14, 2011

School's Out for... ever?

Ahh, the bittersweet ending to the International Teacher's year.  I've written about it before and I'm sure I'll write about it again because it always surprises me just how bittersweet it is.  You can't help but be elated at the thought of the long summer days stretching out before you in bursts of family, friends, and travel.  Oh, and no students.  And sleeping in.  And no students.  Wait, I already said that... but it does bear repeating (bear or bare...?).  I imagine in a local school setting, the teachers hug and say their goodbyes on that last day, just as we do.  But they are only saying goodbye for the summer.  Sure, maybe one or two teachers are moving on to greener pastures- or other careers.  But for the most part, if my high school days are any indication, most teachers get in and stay.

Not so in the International World.  We sign two-year contracts.  After that, it's usually just one year at a time.  I would say, on average, we stay in a place for three years.  Sometimes it's two, sometimes is more... and yes, sometimes you meet that teacher or family who has been there for more years that you've been alive.  But the International Teacher is typically a nomad and always on the lookout for that next amazing school, the next fantastic adventure.  And so, we are constantly saying real goodbyes to friends who we are not sure if we will ever see again.  There are always more than a few tears.

But the upside is this: We usually do see each other again, especially those amazing friends you make along the way.  This year, friends of ours are moving to Bangladesh, Budapest, and Jordan.  There are two new places to travel and visit (I've been to Jordan).  We have close friends going to Cairo and one in Mumbai.  Others are moving to Malaysia (it's truly Asia) and we still have friends in China.  We have friends all over the world... what an amazing feeling!

So yes, it is bitter to say goodbye.  But it is sweet to know that we will probably cross paths again.  Good luck friends, in your next great adventure!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Picture it... Sicily... 1942...

No really- picture your three favorite teachers.  They can be from elementary, middle or high school.  Maybe even pre-school.  Do you have a clear picture?  Good.  Now, picture a Friday afternoon, probably near Christmas break or the end of the year.  You, as the student, are super pumped.  Two weeks to two months off of school.  No more pencils, no more books, etc.  Now, picture your teachers.  They're just as happy to be rid of you as you were of them... and they're old enough to drink.  Visualize bottles of wine, cans of beer, and bowls of chips and pretzels littering a countertop at someone's home.  Try and see the pleasant beginnings- hellos, how-are-yous, woo-aren't-you-glad--to-be-dones.  Envision someone who keeps pouring everyone a little refill or handing out another can.  It gets louder and happier.  Someone turns the music up.  Someone, probably your reserved science teacher, starts dancing in the corner.  Soon, your uptight English Lit teacher starts grinding on your cute PE teacher.  People start laughing, telling stories... and, truth be told, probably making fun of you and your boyfriend.  They start talking about your abysmal US History final and how they expected so much more from you.  Your guidance counselor laughs because she doesn't know how you got into (insert college here).  As the evening rages on, your teachers get more drunk, talk louder, fall all over themselves.  Someone walks into a door, someone else passes out in the bathroom.  The evening ends with cabs being called and someone losing a shoe.

Can you picture it?

No.  That's because that would never happen.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What the...?

It's really cute when little kids say, "What the...?"  It's not as cute when adults say it, because we usually finish it with an expletive of some sort.

There are things you do not do.  You do not trip old people.  You do not lick other people's food.   You do not put hamsters in the microwave.  And you sure as heck don't grab someone's child without asking permission first.  Especially when you are not friends.

Now, having lived in several countries with different social rules than ours, I know that it is likely that somewhere along the way, maybe even in Guatemala, a stranger will grab for, touch, or try to kiss my baby.   It's one of the reasons that I like to 'wear' her in a sling- it makes it harder for that to happen.  I also know, along those same lines, that people will always give me friendly advice regarding my child.  For example, the other day we took her out walking in our neighborhood.  It was evening and cooler than it had been during the day and I had her in the Moby in just a onesie.  The next day, a kindly neighbor told us she saw us walking around and all she could think was, She needs more clothes on!  She said this sweetly, but it was a direct hit.  The thing is, my kid is a hot box.  Even in the cooler evening air, we were both sweating by the time we got home.  I kept feeling her head and her hands during the walk and would've taken her home immediately if she had been too cold.  I do have some idea of how not to kill my child.

I have come to accept that things like this will happen.  When they do, I will smile and thank the person for the advice.  Or I will kindly ask them not to touch her or say, "No, you can't hold her right now," and everything will be fine.  What I can't accept is someone who is not my friend grabbing for my baby.  Not just 'not my friend' in the sense of not being close or not having spent much time together- those people I can tolerate.  But someone who is not my friend because they chose not to be.  Why would you think it was okay to hold my child?  To hold my child after not even acknowledging my presence for an entire evening (which is fine with me)?  Why would someone assume that was okay?

Because it's not.  Nor will it ever be.  If you touch my baby again, I will not only embarrass you publicly- something along the lines of yelling, screaming, just throwing a fit in general- but I could hurt you.  I won't be able to help it.  Blame the Momma Bear.

Now go play the victim.  Tell everyone how awful I am and how you just wish we could be friends and, aside from nearly bouncing my baby to death, you didn't do anything to me...  whatever.

You're an asshat.