My wife is a school teacher and is already burnt out after eight years. She ran into another teacher last night who is retiring after 30 years because she can’t stand the way things are now. “Things used to be so much easier back then,” she said. Amen, Brother. Or Sister. I didn’t really pay all that much attention to my wife’s story except for that point, which is so true.
Listen, I had a teacher in fourth grade named Miss Mulligan. We called her Moose Mulligan. That’s as mean is it got back then. Already better, right? Well, Moose was a cruel woman. She once hit this girl who would be considered special needs today and then turned to the class and said, “I didn’t hit her, did I, class?” We dutifully responded, “No, Miss Mulligan!” And we never told a soul because we knew she could make our lives hell. She made another kid sit under her desk as punishment. And the Moose smelled, so pretty bad punishment. And yet her job was never in jeopardy. If a teacher today raises her voice to a student, that kid’s parents try to get that teacher fired. It’s all nuts, I tell you.
I suppose every generation thinks things were better and easier when they were kids. But in my case it’s true! I mean, we only had the one rule: Be home for dinner. That’s it. I could have robbed a bank, had sex with my friend’s mom and made fun of our neighbor’s lazy eye, but as long as I was home for dinner it was all good. And here’s the beauty of it all: Never, not ever, NEVER did my parents ask “So…what did you do today?” It was better for us, better for them not to know.
And by the way, here are some things we did do: Ate berries to see if they were poisonous, put rocks on a railroad track to see if it would derail the train (it didn’t, which in retrospect I’m glad of, but was disappointed at the time), crawl through the sewers to see if we could find dead bodies (didn’t, same as above), and basically risk life and limb with nary a helmet to be found. It was an idyllic childhood that I look back upon with envy. And I lived it!
Nowadays…well, you’re here in it with me, so you already know. It’s worse! Scary worse! I don’t want to ask my kids how their day was, and they sure don’t want to tell me, but I ask anyway. It’s the law. Yet what can we do? Until that time machine I’m working on is finished (I’m not handy so it might take a while) I have to somehow deal with my family …today. And it’s not going well.