Thursday, March 25, 2010

The End of an Era

Today was my last official day of unemployment, though for an unemployed person I was pretty busy and earned quite a bit of cash in my pocket. Tomorrow I begin a full-time job as a building substitute at a very progressive, lovely school in Cambridge, and all of a sudden between that and my afterschool job I risk, if anything, being overemployed. I'm not complaining, though; nothing gives you an appreciation for employment like a few months of its absence. Even waking up at 5:45 starts to seem charming – which reminds me, I should set my alarm.

I started the day in the same place where I began many of my early unemployed days, in my sister Ms. Swamp's classroom. I was there to complete a long-promised classroom organizational project so wasn't really working much with kids, but as I walked in, I was greeted by an array of friendly smiles and excited greetings. “Hi, Ms. Heathen! I wish you had been here for our field trip yesterday. You would have loved it. We ate plantains – you know, the sweet kind? They were so yummy!” “Ms. Heathen, where's Green Bean today? Is he at home in his cage? I was hoping he could come visit again sometime.” “Oh, hi there! I miss you when you don't come visit us. Could you come to double dutch today? We can pay you!” (This when I explained that I was unavailable for double dutch because I had to go to my job.)

It was all very heartwarming, and quite a contrast with my early visits to 2nd grade. My assessments of Ms. Swamp's kids at that time consisted mostly of words like selfish, bratty, and unlikeable. I remember sitting miserably in her classroom, feeling sick to my stomach, annoyed by their noncompliance and general noisiness. They're certainly not angels; last week I spent a good half hour shepherding an extremely truculent boy from one potential timeout spot to another, none of which turned out to be available, pausing every few minutes as he repeated his threats to return to the classroom. My sister has had her hands full managing these kids since day 1, but thankfully I don't have to manage them, which leaves me much more free to appreciate their positive qualities.

And they do have many, ranging from spacey adorableness to bizarrely charming Asperger's humor to awesome taste in sneakers (silver sequined high top Chuck's, which my sister and I tried in vain to locate in adult sizes). Last week my sister offered my services as a masseuse to one child whose concentration improves when he gets a backrub, and all of a sudden I was surrounded by adorable little children begging me to rub their backs. I am sad at the prospect of not getting to spend time with them, almost as though they were my own class. I never would have guessed early in the year how much my dislike of them stemmed from my own state of disequilibrium.

There are many other such gauges of my improved mental health: my desire to cook elaborate meals for myself; the removal last week of the last of my boxes to storage in the basement (yes, it took me a full four months to completely unpack); my renewed interest in buying clothes and, particularly, shoes for myself (see silver sequined high top story above). Back in October, during my first post-Moustache makeout session, I had literally one thought in my mind: “HA! If only La Moustache could see me now!” These days while making out it is extremely rare for me to think of anyone besides the person I am making out with, and certainly not Moustache. I didn't even enjoy pottery much back in January; now I could spend hours gazing at my pots thinking narcissistically how beautiful they are.

Anyway, it's good to be young and employed in the springtime. And today I got paid to have two kids take turns pushing me in a hammock for half an hour! Things are really going my way.


  1. This post makes me very happy.

    The Sensitive Bostonian seconds that.

    We'll have to find a time for you to come back to second grade sometime before the end of the year so you can say good bye. The kids will miss you, the little terrors. Glad you found them charming. They actually charmed me over the past 3 days, believe it or not!