Saturday, March 27, 2010

Not With A Bang, But A Gibber.

I knew things had degenerated when geography surfaced. Not that geography, in and of itself, is a bad thing. It is helpful to know where you are and what is around you. Especially if you need to find coffee or are in the middle of a zombie attack. But a solid understanding of land masses isn't always exactly what you need.

On Thursday afternoon, I was faced with a decision. Again. This school year has been fraught with decisions, most of which are big and busting at the seams with import. Normally, I have help making these decisions, but this year it hasn't worked out that way. I've been stuck with some doozies and left with hours and hours of worry over them. This is the sort of thing that takes a toll on a teacher.

That day, the decision was somewhere in the middle of the This Can All Go Horribly Wrong And I Will Be Blamed For It scale. I wouldn't usually be flummoxed by this sort of thing but, as I said before, I've been making decisions for a long time now and my pearls of wisdom are running low. The student whose immediate future hung on my chosen path looked at me pleadingly... and I had nuthin'. In desperation, I turned to the Cheerful Teaching Assistant. Surely she could offer something that might help me in my moment of need!

She responded by asking me if I knew the location of a small town in Germany.

She did this with a sincere smile and the waving of a small map. A hush fell over the room. Even the student who had so recently been pleading for mercy and my benevolent intervention was now silent. What does one say at a time like this? Several things were immediately apparent.

1. The CTA had not lost her hearing, nor was she suddenly seized with the overwhelming need to understand the topography of Germany. She heard my question perfectly well. However, in that moment, a distraction was needed.

2. She knew that there was no way to answer my question. I've been doing this almost as long as she's been alive and still didn't know what to decide. How could she?

3. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it is not her job to make these decisions. It is mine. And if I'm feeling like I've been asked to make judgement calls that are beyond my range of liability then it's really rather unfair to ask it of her.

I knew this, but that knowledge didn't keep me from coming perilously close to a state of gibbering. To be completely honest, I may have gibbered a little bit. There might have been a dribble of gibber. But it all served to clarify the situation and I made the best decision possible under the circumstance. Mr. Assistant Principal supported it and we all moved on.

However no one was particularly surprised when I suggested that I might be due for a mental health day. I'd expected a little more in the way of distress at the thought of my abandoning ship for the day, I suppose. But I think everyone knew that it was time for me to hit the reset button.

I can always tell by the way they back away and hold up their hands protectively as they nod and smile the strained smiles of the very, very fearful...

There were several things that needed doing around the manse and I'd sort of let them go while I did other stuff. I made a rather ambitious list of things that A Responsible Adult would have already taken care of. Of course, I am not A Very Responsible Adult so I didn't finish all of them. I did, however, take care of quite a few. The screwed up cell phone account is now back to what it used to was and the state taxes are finished. I even have food in the cupboards again and some of it is quite nutritious. Sometimes I guess it pays to listen to your Inner Gibber. It always knows when it's time to take a step back.

Of course, the one thing I didn't do was get a single stitch of knitting done. But that's the nice thing about giving yourself a three day weekend. You can always decide knit in one or two of the extra hours.

And that is the kind of decision I can make without a single dribbling of gibber!



Anonymous said...

When one's co-workers agree that one needs a mental health day, one REALLY NEEDS a mental health day. Good for you for recognizing your perilous mental state!

Julia G said...

Sounds like a great opportunity to take a break. Years ago I took the LSATs, objective tests which theoretically measure your aptitude for the practice of law. The writers prided themselves on knotty questions and instructed the test taker to choose "the least worst answer". I am not kidding. I have to say, however, it has proved to be a remarkably accurate assessment of many of life's hurdles :-)

Karen said...

A mental health day is a wonderful thing. Don't you have a week of them coming up soon? I think they too are well earned.

Lynne said...

Mental health days for teachers, especially those who teach teenagers, are absolutely necessary. I hope you regain optimum mental health quickly.

trek said...

Some days are like that, even in Australia.

Word verification: "chilin" - I hope you are.

Mia said...

oh yes.. the reset button. Good for you ::hug::

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that you don't take more mental health days; if I taught middle school kids, I think I'd end up checking into a mental health facility!

Donna Lee said...

There are days when I am sure I would like to be in a profession where my decisions had NO impact on people's lives.

Taxes? What taxes? (I haven't done mine yet)