Friday, June 6, 2008

self-awareness - sometimes ugly, but often liberating

I had convinced myself that the figurative cloud over tonight's carnival at my kids' elementary school was simply because I am jonesing for summer, and my students' snarky attitudes are contagious.

But this afternoon I came to terms with some parts of myself that I generally don't address. See [WARNING! Short Story Long!], our alternative school is being featured by a local creative agency (THANK YOU, WORKSHED!) in an art show during the town's First Friday Art Walk. I have been thrilled about this opportunity not only because it created a project for some of my Leadership students, but primarily because it is a chance to showcase our kids in a positive, brilliant light. Most of our student population has not been involved in crime; few are true-to-life-irredeemable slackers; none are incapable of great things eventually. But too many people hear "Alternative High School" and think "losers." This art show lets our kids shine - through their fantastic drawings, paintings, sculptures, poetry, and music, but also through the support of Workshed and Lacamas Community Credit Union, which paid to have the students' pieces framed. It is all so generous and wondrous, I want to share in the joy.

Yet the carnival is also tonight; I'm still technically the PTA President, and I took reluctant charge of the silent auction portion of the evening. Once the art show was announced, the rain cloud over this day grew in my mind because I knew I not only had some responsibility to the PTA & carnival, but I started to dwell on all the things I objected to about the event - it promotes junk food for dinner, offers loads of cheap & crappy trinkety prizes (that I will have to confiscate in the dead of night and pitch into the Goodwill bag), consumes weeks of volunteer efforts for not much $$ return. I get that the point is to create a fun time for kids, but it seems to me there are far simpler means.

Today's revelations: 1) I am essentially a selfish person with charitable undertones and 2) I do not love being around other people's young children for very long. I guess I've always suspected #1; it's just not a pretty thing to admit. And really, I figured out #2 after my brief foray into Elementary Education in college; I switched to Secondary Ed and never looked back.

I decided to focus my attention on the art show. After I deliver some promised items, Stu will take charge of the kids, and a couple of my blessed, beloved, [I promise to buy all the cocktails you want!] fellow PTA board members will oversee the auction. I will be with my students, who deserve this extra attention tonight.

I am thanking God for a husband who graciously built a balloon dart board and will lovingly follow our kids around at a rainy carnival; for kids who might miss me a bit tonight but know their parents believe they're valuable & amazing; for friends who've picked up heaps of my slack this year; for community members who take the time, money, and energy to highlight the genius & goodness of kids many have dismissed. And for those students of mine, who often teach me the best lessons.