You Are Not Okay and Tomorrow Will Come
I felt like a god yesterday when I put a new double-A battery in the clock on my wall. For a few days, the second hand had been struggling to make it up past the number seven. It climbed a few tick marks and then fell, shuddering back down to the number six. I was stuck in perpetual 10:30.
With a new battery in place, the second hand marched proudly up the left side of the clock and then circled back down the right.
“I did that,” I thought, energized and exhausted at the same time. A minute is just so damned short and so freaking long at the same time.
I work at a high school, and to quote my teacher friend, “It’s bad. Baaaaaaaad.”
To be fair, it’s not all bad. My students can be delightful. Yesterday one wrote me a poem and the day before that one brought me a month-old candy cane.
But it’s also bad. Take a group of teenagers. Layer in anxiety, trauma, depression, poverty, and neglect and you’ve got a tiramisu of sadness. Serve it up to overworked, tired teachers and then also let a bunch of old white men pass laws about what should happen in the classroom. Also, cut funding so there’s not enough printer ink to go around. It’s bad.
As an administrator, I get to spend most of the day at my desk pretending I know how to fix it all. Today I wrote a grant to get a 3D printer. That will fix it, right?
But idiot or optimist, I still come home with hope each day.
It’s because of this one little word: and.
Everything is terrible and I can still change the clock battery.
Students come to my office with problems I can’t begin to unpack. No, I can’t tell you why you have dreams about murdering people. No, I can’t explain why your dad told you it’s your mom’s fault you slice your arms up like deli meat. No, I don’t know why the doctor screwed up your prescription and you are out of your meds or why your sister won’t drive to Boston to get you more.
What they need is years of therapy and mental health care that their insurance will never cover. They need stable housing, better health care, braces, and…