Guess what brave things I did today?
a) I got out of my bed
b) I committed to working out – and did
c) I announced that I wasn’t cooking dinner tonight
d) All of the above
Of course, there was something I didn’t do today, and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m wise, or because I was just plain chicken.
There I was, waiting for an ice cream order at our local spot. The place usually gets quite a crowd, and from what I’ve seen, most folks try and manage pretty well to give others space and follow social distancing rules.
But then I saw them. A group of about 8 or 10 upper elementary-aged kids crowded around a picnic table, no space, no masks, sharing fries and food here and there. There were about 4-5 dads nearby, from what I could tell.
Those random guys could have been MY students. Or of any of my other local colleagues who have to go in to school to teach them in person tomorrow.
It was really hard for me to see that.
It was REALLY hard – physically hard – for me to see that, and not say something to that group.
Because I didn’t want to be THAT person.
Still, I did have the time to imagine a speech in my head:
“Hi there. Listen, I’m not trying to raise a scene. I don’t want to start an argument with you or anyone. It’s actually really hard right now for me to speak. But there’s something I need you to know.
“I’m a teacher. My school leaders, colleagues and I spent our summer preparing for the logistics of an in-person return to school this fall. We have spent even more time lying awake at night anxious about our safety, about the safety of our families, and about the safety of our school community.
“I don’t expect anything from you, but I just need you to know that it’s really hard for me to see your group together, knowing how much we we do to keep kids safe while they’re in our care, and knowing how hard we work to keep our end of the bargain.
“And I just need you to hear that if I knew my own students were out doing this same thing, and perhaps putting classmates or other teachers at risk, I’d be heartbroken.
“Again, I don’t expect anything from you. I just…needed you to hear me.”
Then my ice cream came. I decided that I didn’t wind up saying anything to the group because:
a) I didn’t want my ice cream to melt
b) I’m not super into guilt trips
c) I’m not sure I’d actually have been heard
d) I didn’t trust myself to speak sincerely and without judgement or anger
e) All of the above
Instead, I took this evening as an opportunity to remember:
a) I can only control me
b) Emotions, even negative ones, are perfectly okay to feel
c) There is power in letting go
d) Sometimes ice cream really can fix things
e) All of the above