It’s not how anyone wants to end the school day.
I felt like things had run semi-smoothly on a normally pretty chaotic Monday full of new lessons, new work plans, a fire drill, and of course following a sunny, beachy weekend. But, after car line I received a phone call in one of the other lower elementary classrooms.
A parent was upset…
not just upset, but downright PO’d.
She claimed that her daughter – my student – came home in tears after one of my other students allegedly belittled her during one of our specials classes. This was strange since they had seemed happy together after school. The mother demanded to know what I was going to do about it, and that the younger girl should be punished. What her daughter didn’t tell her was that she had gotten upset when the other student didn’t want to play a particularly rude game anymore.
Hmmm.. she must have forgotten to mention that part.
“This peace rock thing you do,” she said sarcastically, “was supposedly going to help like you said it would, but it doesn’t. It’s a waste of time.”
After a few more loud, criticizing remarks (at one point I had to hold the phone away from my ear), she said,
If mama ain’t happy then ain’t no one happy, including me.
To make a long story short, I got blasted at the end of the day. I hung up with her feeling angry (although I willed myself to keep my cool), somewhat defeated, and pretty annoyed. Partly because it came from a parent who refuses to come to conferences, and from a child who has a track record of causing problems in the classrooms. I didn’t reiterate any of these things during her one-sided venting session with me because I knew in her red emotions at the time, she wasn’t going to hear a single. word. I was saying…
It was her time to be heard.
And I listened… without any attachment to her words.
I left school soon afterward. I collected my two girls, drove to the post office within seconds of them locking the door, mailed off a Punkee Herbals order, and drove home.
Luckily, I have a pretty decent drive home to our little neck of the island, and it gave me time to mentally sort things out.
For the first while, I was pretty red myself.
A color that means stop.
A color that means heat.
A color often associated with anger.
I was angry because I am tired of some parents not looking at the whole situation, and only seeing or hearing what they choose.
I am tired of some parents thinking that the teacher – and everyone else – is out to get their child.
I am tired of feeling deflated from not being good enough for everyone… for receiving too many expectations for too many kids… for giving so much of myself to those students (and to conferences that are so important for a parent-teacher relationship), and for having so little patience and energy leftover for my own family when I get home…
So tired from some parents who do not take responsibility for their own child’s actions…
Tired of being a punching bag.
I want – and need – more energy to deal with this. So, after a few “mommy, mommy, mommy” from the back seat, I kindly asked my two girls to give me a few minutes to think and take big breaths (when they hear me say that, they know I need it).
I took big, long breaths.
I put myself in her shoes.
I would not have followed in her footsteps… but I was able to see why she could be so upset.
And I vowed that I would go to yoga tonight.
If I don’t follow these steps, she has controlled me.
- 1.25 Hours Later of Vinyasa & Restorative Yoga (and a few Bob Marley tracks on the way home)
I feel better. I feel calmer. Her angry words and nasty tone and the sequence of events needing to follow up for the next few days have not left me, but I can handle it more easily. I can look at it with different eyes and yes, with more love.
The practice of being mindful, and of how I reacted to each pose and each breath creates the outcome. I felt icky, now I feel stronger. I didn’t fight my way through poses or big breaths. I chose to go easy instead of pushing myself too hard.
I heard words and truly felt them physically and emotionally, like, “let it go” and “release into the pose.”
I breathed in love, I breathed out, “you suck.”
I breathed in love, I breathed out, “not good enough.”
I breathed in love, I breathed out negativity: faces, words, feelings, thoughts.
And later, I sang along with Bob (alone in my car, with no shame at all), “Don’t worry… about a thing… ’cause every little thing is gonna be alright.”
I know I’m not enlightened, and I don’t pretend to be. I’m a human, a mother, an educator doing the absolute best that I can. If I did not have a mindfulness practice, I know that I would handle these situations differently – with less self-control and less dignity. I’d have way more cringe-worthy moments that I know I’d regret soon afterwards. Being an educator, especially in this capacity, leaves plenty of room for those cringe-worth moments.
My practice – even just stopping for a few moments and truly focusing on my breath – helps me to sort things out and change the colors of my mood.
My Om reverberates louder than their criticisms.