Monday, September 30, 2013

The Miracle Worker

It never fails. 3:00 AM. Can't sleep. The worry that I am possibly the meanest, most merciless teacher in the world runs through my mind. All this because I made a kid go back and walk when he ran and hurdled chairs in the library. Or I sternly told a young man to put his shoes and socks back on and that his behavior was rude and inconsiderate when he ignored the repeated requests of myself and his classmates. It seems that the prevailing winds of education tell us that if the kids aren't having fun 100% of the time it is our fault. I know this isn't true in the grander scheme of things. Circumstances require that I play the ogre occasionally. When necessary and when pushed or excessively tired, I can become Staff Sergeant Black. I am human afterall. But, it is the least favorite part of my job. Albeit, a necessary one.

Being the disciplinarian ranks way down on the list of fun parenting responsibilities too. Which is why I am dumbfounded when parents are upset with teachers and other caring adults for setting and holding limits. Perhaps it is our job to teach or mentor the parents as well. To remind them we're on their side. We are on their kid's side. We are their partners in raising their children to become all they can be. Just as it is a parent's job to help their child make the best decisions to build a stable, loving home life with strong family relationships, it is our job to guide them to make choices that will help them succeed as global citizens. We want Ralphy McPeevish to have friends who care for him and aren't afraid of him. We want Sally Ann Wigglepants to practice attention so she can focus on learning and listening which in time will lead to self soothing and inner peace. Little Moises Grumblewhine must understand there will always be things he doesn't want to do, that he needs to do. There is a fragile balance to maintain order with any group of humans, but especially miniature newbies. The hard truth is they have to walk the line just like grown folks.

I keep thinking of Helen Keller. What if her parents got their way? What if Anne Sullivan had gone easy on her like everyone else in her life had done previously out of pity or exhaustion? This world would have been deprived of one of the greatest thinkers, speakers, and writers of all time. A truly unique voice and perspective, a veritable light in the darkness, would have been dimmed. As much as I admire Helen; her spirit, her grace, the truths she brought forth, I know that none of that would have mattered if it weren't for Anne Sullivan's determination to shape that potential. And the process wasn't always pretty. Or fun. Or "nice." Some even thought her cruel. I’ll admit to squirming in my seat when I watched Anne Bancroft muscle Patty Duke into submission in the film classic, The Miracle Worker. Hindsight is always twenty twenty. And, we all know the outcome when it comes to dear Helen. However, I have to wonder if while she was living through it, Anne Sullivan didn’t have more than a few 3 AM bitter watches, reckoning if she was doing right by Helen. Trusting the process is difficult for everyone. But faith and trust is what is needed.

Of course Helen said it best. I will end this and try to get back to sleep with these wise words from the luminous mind of Ms. Keller.

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

"Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light."

"When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another."

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