It’s become a tradition to take a photo of Xy as she heads off to her first day of classes.
I realized this morning that we’ve been doing this for long enough that I have built up quite a little archive, going back to 2005, just a few days before Katrina.
These photos kind of recapitulate our lives over last six years. Even though I always feel a great deal of pride when she embarks on a new year of teaching, reviewing these pictures also makes me a little sad. She’s still reeling from the brutal year she had in 09-10. A year like that can really undermine one’s confidence. (Her recent surgery has not made things any easier either; she’s recovering but there have been some anxiety issues along the way.) Teachers across the country have had it rough but here in New Orleans they’ve been kicked to the curb repeatedly, used and abused, underpaid and overworked and repeatedly disrespected.
Seeing the real human toll on someone you love isn’t pleasant.
When Xy comes home exhausted and overwrought, I don’t know how to advise her. Oh, I have plenty to say. I’m brimming over with perky little self-help ideas, I’m just not sure if it helps her in any way. It might be better if I was just the “strong silent type,” but I’m more the kind of guy who wants to get in there and fix stuff. It’s a fairly typical masculine mindset, I suppose. But we have such different working environments, and our psychologies are just different enough, that I don’t know if she finds much value in anything I say. But my frustration is only a fraction of what Xy feels.
Each year starts with such high hopes, only to end deeper in discouragement and despair. I worry. Yes, I do.
But enough gloom. Teaching is hard work, but the world needs good teachers, and these teachers need our love and support. Give a teacher a hug, or a word of appreciation, or better yet a nice home-cooked meal. That’s my plan.