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Friday, October 19, 2007

A Handful of Words

I stapled my finger to my bulletin board today.

In all honesty, it hurt like hell. Let me tell you the whole story so you can see the irony in it.

For confidentiality purposes, we'll call my student Burt. Burt and I were working on word families. Yesterday we made a list of word families on the board and then traced his hand. We wrote the word family on the palm of his traced hand and the beginning to the word on each finger so that we would have a handful of words we could read. It ended up being an ingenous idea and definitely tasteful enough to display on my bulletin board entitled "Mrs. Grabe's Busy Bee's"

Today as I was hanging Burt's hand prints up on the board, I was stapling each finger to ensure they wouldn't fall down or heavens forbid, have a limb go astray. As I stapled his ring finger, I must have been perplexed as to whose hand I was displaying and stapled my very own ring finger to the bulletin board. There were definitely a handful of choice words that slipped under my tongue like the dirt I sweep under my rug, but I held my tongue due to Burt still being present. My finger was smarting a bit for the rest of the day and I was able to see the two small dots where the staple went in. I kept the pain buried deep inside of me, not letting anyone aware of the accident. Mainly, I felt half-witted. I mean, who staples their own finger to a bulletin board?

I continued on with my night of parent teacher conferences and as I spoke with parents many of them dispensed their own hurt. This was not in the form of making us aware of their physical pain, but rather, emotional pain. This is only my third year teaching and it's amazing how unphased I have become at the things that happen in my students' home. As I sat and listened to a mother tell me about her 6 year old son watching his father beat her almost to death causing her to go into preterm labor with her second child, I felt numb. I was not desensitized. My heart unquestionably went out to this family. Despite of what I was told, it's nothing that I haven't heard before. I"ve actually heard worse. I don't work with 1 student who hasn't had a traumatic life. For me, the more that these kids have been through in their lifetime, the more I love them. They wouldn't be who they are if they hadn't lived through some of the things they have in their short lives. The pandemonium these kids live through is an environment detrimental to all aspects of their lives so they need someone to love them.

As I reflected on the past week and the conferences or should I say counseling sessions that I had with parents I have forgotten about my stapled finger, my wisdom teeth being removed, and my migrain. There is so much more pain in the world that needs to be brought to the attention of others and there are the small pains that should be shrugged off.

Does my finger still hurt? Hell yeah. Everytime I push the 's', 'w', and 'x' key I feel the pressure of the staple driving into my flesh once again. However, I don't have to feel the pressure of tiptoeing around my own home to avoiding getting hit. I don't feel the pressure of worrying about drugs being sold in my house, and don't have the feel the pressure of approaching custody battles.

Pressure pushes down on all of us. It's how we handle the severity of it that gets us through.

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