Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tales of A Substitute Teacher: BOY NOT

Last Thursday, I was certain that my virgin tour of the faculty lounge would be a high point of my day. I wasn’t expecting massaging recliners or a complimentary espresso bar. I was just planning on being inspired by a place about which I had always wondered and never had the offical right to use.

This virgin visit, however, was upstaged by an episode that happened a bit earlier in the classroom. Plain and simple -- I made a big mistake and dwelled on it the whole day long... and then some.

I thought that a girl was actually a boy and I referred to her as “He.” Some of the kids corrected me. “He? She!” they said, but in that moment it didn't register. I repeated “He.” They repeated, “He? She!”

Then I got it.

And in that split second I found clues that I had overlooked... or had never looked for in the first place. I spied a pink bag strap peering out from behind her stocky frame. I noticed breasts which could have easily been mistaken for a few extra pounds of flesh.

My body was heating up, filling with embarrassment. I looked at her and apologized, attempting to recover. I offered a few excuses. The girl seemed more resilient than me. She let me know that I was not the first to be mistaken. This was her way of forgiving me, and, though I was thankful for that, my carelessness weighed heavily for the rest of the day.

I learned that it is better to address an individual by name rather than by a pronoun. Actually, that is something my mother has reiterated through the years and I finally got it.

1 comment:

Marc said...

Jane, I think that it is a natural phenomenon, finding oneself in embarrassing positions when you put yourself out attempting to make others feel good about themselves. You obviously were just trying to be a cool teacher and remove any perceived wall between you and the kids. The fact that you dwelled on it, just means your a kind and sensitive person.

I certainly remember my mother becoming indignant when I would refer to her as "she or her". Although, on the other hand, "he or him" was never used in reference to my mother. I wonder whether, if I had done so, would she have been more tolerant of the use of "she and her"? Ha!

My wife often criticizes me for referring to someone, I know very casually, by their first name, even when I am not so sure. I like to take a chance, cause I think it makes them feel good that an acquaitance remembers. 9 times out of 10, I get it right, but when I don't, Bobbie never fails to give me hell.

I guess my point is that puting yourself out there is worth the risk, you make the world better by it!