“Be Kind to Teachers” Week

This is my creation, "Be Kind to Teachers Week"   The teachers here are in a state of high anxiety.  It is exam week.  The kids are relaxed but a bit baffled by the tension of their teachers, and this morning I begged them please to be kind this week as the teachers are having a hard time. 

My reference point of course is the US.  But I have been involved with education here for eight-plus years now so I know the drill. 

1. Within families the mother is held responsible for how the children do at exams. 

2. The other person(s) held responsible is the teacher, the private teacher or teachers who take the children before and after school to give further instruction and to supervise the homework given by the school.  Their bonuses and salary can depend on how the children do. I learned this after our first year when I was quietly told that the teacher was expecting a gift for how the children had done. 

Life often stops for exams.  Mothers and sometimes fathers take off from work with a simple explanation, "My son/daughter has exams."   This can go on for weeks.  As an American of course I wonder what these parents actually do.  They cook, make sure the environment is good, and make sure they study.  I'm talking about college age students too.  Then of course the parents take them for exams and wait for them outside.

As I write the girls are getting ready for an exam later this morning.  For Tuesday's exam I ended up screaming at the staff because with five staff and only six girls to get out the door they managed to still be combing hair when the girls had to leave.  (I forgot in the chaos to get out the megaphone Cici sent me because I told her no one listens unless I scream)

So, this morning we are more organized.  The girls are being great (kind to teachers) and cooperating.  Once in a while I catch their eyes and wink, in thanks.  I didn't go with them Tuesday.  I was hours from submitting our government renewal application and needed to work.  But the headmistress told the teacher she thought I would be there to bless the children.  (Truly, I never seem to get it right.)  In truth the girls and I already had our pep talk this morning and I said I only cared that they try their best and however they do, I'm fine and proud of them.  This is true.  I thought I'd go this morning, but then I looked at the teacher and I knew she wanted to take them.  So I blessed them and they left.

My special blessing for exams, sports events, dance performances — is really funny and incongruous.  When I did my corporate stint at Johnson & Johnson, I wore the appropriate makeup.  It was expensive and made to look as if it was "natural" so sometimes I wondered why I did it.  But I came to think of it as warpaint — what we put on when going to do battle.  It's as much about feeling protected as what it projects.  Well, the last time I was in Frankfurt Airport, having just spent three days with Cici, and waiting for my plane back to Kolkata, I found myself wandering through the duty free make up section.  I stood before Chanel and remembered more than 20 years ago when I wandered into Saks with Heather and we bought make-up, a crazy splurge.  So that day in Frankfurt I looked at some gold specked blush… and tried it and literally couldn't see the difference when I put it on, so I bought it.  That's what I use for my blessings… I brush the gold dust on their foreheads, nose, cheeks and they love it.  It's mom's sprinkle dust.

"Mom" is full of contradictions.  I love fancy things.  I love beautiful things.  I just can't afford them and the life I want here.  It's simple.  It's choices, but I'm not someone who doesn't care about those things.  I'm a failed ascetic. 

I was a foster mother to a teenaged girl in my late twenties.  I remember thinking about drapes for my apartment when I was a resident in Psychiatry.  I saw a beautiful Egyptian patterned cloth and I wanted drapes.  I went home and looked at the windows, imagining the drapes and how beautiful they would be.  Then I asked myself if this was really how I wanted to spend my money.  Then I made the call I'd been thinking about and applied to be a foster mother.  It's all about choices.  I can still see the cloth and still feel the epiphany of choice.




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kit
    Mar 27, 2009 @ 22:44:46

    Hello Michelle.. I read your blog often.. have 2 girls adopted from India, age 11 and 16. It’s fascinating to see the world through your eyes. Blessings, Kit


  2. Chris Futia
    Apr 16, 2009 @ 04:55:58

    Dear Michelle,
    I can yell REALLY loud and I can guarantee they will hear me in BBD Bagh — if the girls need it!
    Chris (see you soon …)


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March 2009
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