When you’re a teacher, surrounded by other teachers, it’s SUPER easy to get caught up in the complaining game. Who had the worst day, most stressful week, or most hectic quarter? Who has crazier students? Who has the most to complain about?
I complain about teaching a lot. I complain about my students telling me I should wear my hair down, wear contacts, and wear more dresses and makeup (Why, you ask? To get a husband of course!).
I complain about the missing homework, the failures, the tardies, the absences, the laziness, the lack of organization, the disrespectful words and looks, the dress code violations, and the desk vandalism.
I complain about the “IDKs” and even worse, the “IDCs”. I complain about the “As long as I’m passing, Miss” and the “Oh no, we weren’t talking, I was asking for help!”
I complain about the ones who could and should be doing better, the ones who could and should EASILY be making A’s, and the ones who should have been held back.
I complain about them making me feel old as dirt. Like “They’re not called HEADphones anymore Ms. Mendez, there’s nothing on our HEADS. They’re called EARphones now” or “What’s a cassette? What’s a Polaroid?” Kill me.
I complain about the fact that they notice literally everything, from my chipping toenail polish to the bags under my eyes to “You wear those shoes every single day. Don’t you have other ones?”
I complain about how being a teacher really means being a teacher, family member, friend, counselor, detective, babysitter, shrink, editor, lunch lady, detention master, referee, comedian, copy room queen, intimidator, manipulator, motivational speaker, and more. At least ten jobs wrapped into one for a next-to-nothing paycheck while everyone you know envies your “easy job and great vacation time”.
But at some point, the complaining kind of turns its head and laughs in your face, morphing into something you never thought possible…
I complain about the fact that I just love them too, too much. I complain that I’d go crazy without them (yes, crazier than I’m going with them). I complain that I’m only a second-year teacher, why am I so attached? I complain that they make me laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed. I complain that I’ve become a proud mama bear, swelling with over-protective, near-psychotic emotions that could probably cause my head and heart to explode simultaneously. I complain that on random occasions, quite frequently, they make me want to be a teacher forever, just from one high-five after mastering a test or one giggle while immersed, reading a short story.
I complain that they’re about to be in 8th grade, they’re leaving me, they’ll forget me! I need more time! I wanted to do a Hunger Games unit! I’m this close to making a writer out of him, a reader out of her, learners out of them. I complain; this was not part of the plan.
Call it “positive complaining”—and let me tell you, it feels awesome.
Try it. Complain about a kid who’s too nice or too eager, complain about how one student accidentally called you Mom, and complain about how the class loved the story or your joke or the lesson so much that it was hard to calm them down afterward.