Monday, January 11, 2010

full circle

Little has begun school, and I have had my first taste of what it will be to be a teacher again.

The first week was very difficult. Little's not used to getting up early, and even though we spent the last few weeks before school began for him getting him to bed early and up early, he didn't really relish the idea of getting up, getting dressed, and going out into the cold. The first day he was quiet and unsure. Tuesday and Wednesday were awful, if only because he was miserable about separating from me. The word from the teacher and the school social worker was that he was having good days, going with the flow, having fun, making friends, and doing his work. Thursday was better, and Friday was better still.

Dropping off a miserable little boy at school was made more challenging by the fact that I did not get called to sub last week. At all. I can handle some measure of misery as long as I have something to do to get my mind off it. Idleness plus misery is a recipe for a highly pathetic form of insanity, for me at least.

Until Friday afternoon. I'd pretty much given up hope when the call came in, and as I got dressed to teach (!) I realized I needed to make an important decision.

What were the kids going to call me?

At the alternative school where I have done the vast majority of my teaching, I was called by my first name, and I really believe, most of the time, that's the way it should be. Teachers and students on a first name basis indicates a certain level of respect for the students' ideas, a certain regard for their autonomy and their sovereignty as persons.

But that's not going to fly in a public school.

When I student taught in a public school, I had feminist notions around courtesy titles, and I introduced myself as Ms. Deluxe, but it always felt false and forced. It never rolled off my tongue, and because kids never asked me about what Ms. meant, I don't really think it served any purpose.

So I have decided to go by Mrs. Deluxe. It's accurate; the etiquette books say that no matter what her last name, a married woman is entitled to use Mrs. My last name is the one I was born with, which means that as I go out into the world as Mrs. Deluxe, I'm using the exact same name my mother used when she taught, as well as the name my paternal grandmother used when she taught.

Three generations of Mrs. Deluxe, teaching as best they can. May I live up to my namesakes.