mixed bag

pen cup at home: new & vintage pens in thrifted Mexican painted pottery

Because my schedule is obviously not full enough and to amuse the gods while they dally with piddly human lives like mine, this weekend I've been job hunting while sick with a bad head cold. That's right—this makes five colds, one flu, and two ear infections since September when I first started working in an elementary school. My hackles were raised this week by comments from a few acquaintances who suggested that this much sickness is somehow my fault—not eating healthy enough, not enough vitamins, too much sugar, "When's the last time you had a complete physical?"—rather than it being a case of first-year-schoolteacher syndrome like the doctors and ENT specialist all said.

I know I should just let ignorant comments die a quiet death in the corner, but I'm addicted to truth telling, so I did a little Googling yesterday, uncovering much anecdotal evidence that, yes, new school teachers on average get sick a lot the first three or so years before things quiet down when the immune system has been buttressed. And the younger the kids taught, the worse it is because young kids have the worst basic hygiene. I also work in an impoverished school with a majority of immigrant children from Mexico, Asia, and Africa. (And, by the way, being a mere parent of a school kid does not subject a person to the same level of exposure as that kid's teachers. Sorry, but it just doesn't, so parents don't have my sympathy. It also isn't the same for teachers of adults—I've done that, too, and I rarely got sick.)

thrifted vintage skein of Tahki Nodolino cotton-linen yarn in pastel-crayon tweed

Scientists have even shown that the work surfaces school teachers are exposed to are exponentially germier than those of any other profession. I already require the kids I remediate to cough into their elbows, to wash their hands in front of me, to use hand sanitizer after blowing their noses. We keep the window open whenever possible. My first- and second-grade students especially are sick on a rotating basis as much as I've been this year, but unlike adults, the kids don't know they can complain about it, so adults often don't seem to notice until the kids are sporting a blushing fever. In any case, every afternoon this term I've been wiping down everything at my desk with ammonia wipes, "proven to kill flu viruses." This week, I will institute a Don't-Touch-My-Pens! policy, since some of the forums I scanned highly recommended this tip. (The sharing principle we all learned at age five should only go so far.)

So even though I skipped work on Friday to stay in bed (it was a grading day with no school), and have been home resting most of the weekend, I did somehow find myself yesterday pulled by Jeff's orbit into Goodwill "just to look at furniture" before heading to the grocery store to stock up on vitamins, fruits, and vegetables (because I don't at all eat healthy or cook all my own damn food from scratch). Did we only look at furniture? Of course not. He bought a vintage Faribault orange-cream-brown-and-yellow woven wool lap blanket and a 1950's space-age, brown-and-orange-swirled ashtray (Sheila says ashtrays sell because nobody makes them anymore). And I came out carrying a big bag of mostly unlabeled yarn I bought for the four skeins of labeled tweedy wool inside, the discards to be consigned next weekend at ReRun.

thrifted Harrisville Tweed Indigo yarn hanks, "spun in U.S.A."

And now it's time for some more online job hunting—because teachers like myself need second and third jobs in the summer just to make ends meet. Will this be the last respiratory virus of the school year for our heroine? Tune in next time for more adventures of . . . The Disgruntled Educator.

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