Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Attitude Adjustment

Long day teaching.  Finished cleaning up, prepped for the following day and was finally in my car on the first leg of my 40 minute drive home.  If I can get on the road early enough it can be cut to 30 minutes so I was trying to get to the freeway ASAP.  When the cars in front of me came to a dead stop I was not happy.  As I was trying to figure out what was going on I saw 3 boys running from the sidewalk to the vehicle two cars ahead.  I was hot, tired and anxious to get home so my initial reaction was annoyance at the inconsiderate driver who thought it was okay to make everyone wait while they let passengers get in their car instead of pulling over.  As I was grumbling under my breath I realized that the boys hadn't run over to get into the car.  They had run to the rescue of a poor soul whose car had ceased moving.  They were young, skinny boys, probably fifth or sixth grade.  With their backpacks still on their backs they put their scrawny little shoulders into it and pushed the car safely to a gas station, then just walked off.  I don't think they knew the driver.  I don't think they even asked if help was wanted, they just jumped in.

Back to me.  I was still hot, tired and anxious to get home but had a different attitude as I resumed my commute.  I work with kids most of the time.  I get frustrated with the apathy, laziness and self centered entitlement that many "kids these days" manifest.  I worry about the future of our society.  In addition I work in low income areas where a larger percentage of students exhibit these traits as well as other traits that go along with their economic situations.  This was a relatively insignificant incident.  I don't know if anyone else noticed or thought anything about it but for me it was a needed reminder of the innate goodness in people, even if it's deeply hidden in some.  My students sometimes do ridiculous and inappropriate things.  They can make me crazy.  Some days I wonder why I bother.  A few students don't ever seem to listen or care.  But there's another side to them.  Even the most obnoxious, frustrating kid will run to get the door or help me with my boxes.  Sometimes they even get into arguments over who gets to help.  They really want to help, even when I don't really need it.  It's usually easier to say "no" and do things myself but now I'm thinking that fostering that desire to help may be as important or more important than any of the art skills I'm supposed to be teaching.  Although my drive home ended up being closer to 40 minutes it didn't feel that long and I was thankful for the attitude adjustment.

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