Thursday, October 17, 2013

Teenage Dream


Is this entry 99 in the Trifecta challenge?  Here's hoping so.


Teenage Dream



Don't look back.
But, how could I not?

He doesn't know me as well as he thinks he does or else,
He wouldn't just stand here,
with his arm around my shoulder,
telling me that better days lay ahead.

A tear falls from my eye.
He makes no move to clear it away.
He just tells me that he will remember me always,
That he will miss me when I'm gone.

I'm already gone
in his eyes.

He tells me to not look back,

But, I will not be forgotten!
An iPhone picture snapped, uploaded.

One teacher's career over.



     Glad I was able to get this one in on time.
     This is a true story, up until the end of the piece.  As a male teacher, I have to be very careful how I interact with students, especially female students and, especially in this age of camera phones and instant uploading of images.  To do something as compassionate as giving a hug or a reassuring pat on the back, is an act fraught with potential danger nowadays. Too bad because, some kids just need that hug, you know?!

28 comments:

  1. I like how you used back as a character. Very tight and well executed, sir.

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    1. Thanks, Lance. It is report card time and I was scrambling for a few spare minutes. Happy I got it done in time and that you liked it. :)

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  2. I hate that teachers are faced with this issue - I understand the fear, but it's been taken so far. I know so many kids who just need that hug. This was a very well-written piece - great job.

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    1. I give the hugs, gotta admit. I never seek them out but return them when given one. Hope it always gets interpreted as the act of kindness and compassion that it is and not anything else. Hugs are a good thing, I'd like to think. But, I have to be careful, just the same. Too bad. Thanks for your great comment. It is appreciated.

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  3. It happened to a friend-a college professor who volunteered to do some math workshops at the local middle school. He innocently patted a girl on the shoulder to tell her she'd done a good job, and next thing he was arrested for sexual assault, because she told her mom-who misunderstood what happened. (I have a daughter, and so I must confess I can understand her reaction) He was completely innocent-and eventually the charges were dropped-but a total nightmare for him, and the sad part is that he won't volunteer ever again, which is a loss for the students he was trying to inspire.

    Powerful piece, Tom!

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    1. Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. Being falsely accused is every teacher's nightmare. With so many kids with cell phones, it is easy to get photographed doing something that someone else could misinterpret. My best defense against all of this is to have a sterling reputation among my colleagues, parents and, most importantly of all, the kids. By and large, the kids like me and try not to disappoint me. Hopefully, this level of respect will help negate the temptation of anyone looking to settle a score. 4 1/2 years until retirement. Tiptoeing as I go.

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  4. What a double-edged sword. Also, your issues are showing, Tom!
    Nice peep onto the other side.

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    1. My issues, Kymm? Sorry. Not sure what you mean. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. :)

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    2. Sorry, I just meant you've been talking about school closings, your impending retirement, and I added that on to what I assume are every end-of-year parting pains.
      Not looking back, being already gone, career being over. I meant that the theme seems to reflect an underlying ... anxiety? ... mixed feelings? ... Maybe I read too much into it, but I liked the parallels.
      I was just being flip in the way I said it (your issues showing). Will try to tone myself down : )
      (I would never make it as a teacher!)

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    3. No worries, Kymm, at all!!! :) I was just confused, not upset, by your comments. This story has little to do with school closures or retirement. The word, "Back" resonates with me because it was a word I said to a young girl in a time of personal crisis for her. It is one of those things that instantly triggers the very memory that I wrote about. I wrote about the real story behind the story in response to someone else on my blog, if you care to know more. But anyway, no worries about anything. I am good with everything and happy, as always, that you take the time to read my work and offer your insightful comments. I appreciate your words very much. Have a great weekend, Kymm. Take care. :)

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  5. This is a perfect of example of an innocent action being mistaken for something more. In this day and age, teachers to have to be so careful in their actions. So different from when I was in school - I had a sixth grade teacher that had kids sit on his lap when they asked him questions. I didn't do so well in math because it seemed creepy so I never had questions. The way things are now, he'd definitely be in jail.

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  6. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. So sorry you had the creepy teacher experience. It is terrible to stuck under the authority of someone who abuses their position of trust so. Thats why I'll hug a kid who needs a hug and who has hugged me first but, beyond that, it is a hands off policy these days.

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  7. So hard to be human. It is an innocence that has been stolen from us. Well done.

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    1. Thanks, Renee. Lots of good writing this week. Glad I got mine in on time and that you thought it to be not too bad.

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  8. Holy wow! Such a powerful piece. I hate that we have become so cynical and untrusting, yet the parent in me understands the need to be wary. Well done, Tom!

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  9. Anybody who thinks that going to school today is simply about abcs and 123s is kidding themselves. Maintaining a sense of personal integrity has never been more important than it is in these times. Thanks for your comments, Ivy and for creating such good work of your own this week,

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  10. Thanks so much for linking up this week and helping us reach our goal. Don't forget to vote!

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  11. Tom, as always you've honed in on the pain in the scene. It was powerful reading this from the POV of the student.

    Concerns about physical touch continue into adulthood. I have a tendency to touch people's arms when I speak to them. I have to reign the behaviour in completely when I working in human resources - so much so that when I talk with someone in my office, I fold my hands and keep them to one side and usually under my desk. It's not so much inappropriate touching for adults; incidental touching no matter how positive the intent can break people's personal boundaries or trigger emotions. Life is a minefield.

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    1. I gotta be me and do what I do but now, I gotta be careful and calculating, too. I really yearn for simpler times, when trust was easier to earn and keep.
      Thanks, as always, for your kind and genrous comments.

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  12. A teacher is so important to the child. I never had any great teachers who inspired me or even wanted to know me. I can see that my son has got one and the energy he derives from her. Your students are so fortunate Tom. You give so much of yourself to them.

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    1. Your comment makes me sad. I am so sorry that you did not have any teachers who impacted your life in a positive manner. Being a teacher is such a priviledge. To be able to inspire my students to be lifelong learners, good citizens, confident risk-takers, creative thinkers and so on, is why I do this job. I cannot imagine a classroom of mine that did not have, at its' core, a foundation of rapport, trust, and an invitation to the students to follow their dreams in the realization that I would do whatever it took to help them get wherever they needed to go. Thank you for your brave comments. You are welcome to come and visit me and my classroom any time you are in Canada and feel the "Mr. MacInnes Experience" fill you up and charge your soul! :)

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  13. Wow, I'm so sorry, that must have been terrible! One of the most touching and personal posts this week.

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    1. This is a fictional account, just so ya know. The story is true up until the end where the girl became vengeful and ruined her teacher's career. In the real life story, I, along with a grandmotherly librarian lady, became a sort of alternative parents to this young girl. For four years in a row, she walked with us and talked with us and drew pictures for us and, generally speaking, came to regard us as the most stable and trusted adults in her life. So, when it came time for her to graduate from our school and move on to her new school, she, obviously, didn't want to lose contact with us and, as such, she was an emotional wreck the last week or so of school. Anyway, she walked with me during the last recess of the school year and, about halfway into the recess break, in the middle of the school yard, she burst into tears, threw her arms around my neck and gave me one of those "death-grip" hugs....and, wouldn't let go. She sobbed and sobbed. As she sobbed, I was thinking about how to soothe her, obviously but, also, I was well aware that I was a man in a very public embrace with a beautiful tweenage girl and that I needed to get her and I both off the yard and into the school. So, as I talked to her, I told her to be proud of who she was and to walk confidently into her new school and that there would surely be people who saw what a wonderful person she was, just like I did and our Librarian did. I told her to move forward and not to look back. That her future was going to be better than she imagined and that she had made a difference in my life by being such a good friend to me at this school. I know this is probably not what she really wanted to hear but, it was what was offered under the circumstances. Eventually, I got her to leave the yard...and my body.....and come back inside the school but, it wasn't easy and she was terribly sad. I am just thankful, selfishly-speaking, that she was not the type to try and hurt me to avoid losing me, if that makes sense. There was no camera. I did not lose my job. No one ever complained. But, the potential was there for it to have ended horribly wrong for all involved. Anyway, that is the real story of my fictional Trifecta story. :)

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  14. What a beautifully moving piece Tom and a concern highlighted in the process-Bravo my friend!In India,we do not have this kind of relationship with our teachers-so there has never been any hugs now or earlier-the "distance" has always been there but sadly in today's big bad world,we get to hear about many cases where smaller kids ,who have no idea about sexual abuse,falling prey to lecherous perverts,in the guise of teachers.

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    1. Thank you for your wonderful comments, Atreyee. I can't imagine teaching without the compassionate, emotional component to the job. If all I had to do each day was teach curriculum, it would a far less taxing job but, also, a far less rewarding job, too. As much as I am aware of the pitfalls of giving a hug or a pat on the back to a child who needs it, I cannot imagine not striving to be that other "trusted adult" in the lives of my students (after their Mom and their Dad). Thanks for stopping by.

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  15. oh Tom, this actually makes me so sad. I loved the write, the words chosen were good ones but the story behind it, the constant looking over your own shoulder.

    when I was an RA and then a Resident director in college, I gave a lot of hugs, I sat with students alone quite a bit. I was counselor, priest, big sister etc. I know, deep down, that I saved a life or two in my day just by being kind and loving to a student who needed it...but it makes me so sad that in this day and age it can be misinterpreted, or skewed. I think of Gio and Jacob, of course I don't want them to be hurt by someone they trust, but I also WANT their teachers, their babysitters etc to be able to hug them, soothe them in the times they need it.

    I will be thinking about this all weekend.

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    1. Please don't fill your weekend's thoughts with this, as much as I appreciate my work being memorable and all. :) What can I say about this topic, really? We dedicate our lives to helping others because we care. So when an integral part of how we express our care becomes turned upside down and perverted, it strikes a blow. I still give hugs and I still hold hands with any child who wants to walk and talk during recess. But, that seed of concern has been planted by the times we live in and it is always there, in the back of my mind, as I care for those entrusted to me for that day. Sigh. Have a great, carefree, happy and safe weekend!!! :)

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