I had to look petard up: a small bomb apparently. As for being hoist on/by/with it, we have Shakespeare to thank for that one. All I knew was that it meant, roughly, to fall into one’s own trap, and that I’ve certainly done this week.
Embarrassed, but trying hard to be authentic, so…
Allow me to explain.
A few weeks ago I was asked to take on a pair of new students – young brothers who shared a genetic condition with their mother. “Multi-systemic” I was told, so the effects of this syndrome involve skin, joints, brain and just about any part of the body you can think of. The words ‘complex learning difficulties’ were also mentioned.
To be honest, I was almost at full stretch before these lads appeared on the scene. Planning two lots of lessons in maths and English tailored to their particular mix of strengths (very high intelligence) and challenges, as well as homework each week would, I knew, take at least an entire day. Then there was the teaching itself, which I could only just slot in amongst my other young pupils. Everything logical in my mind was screaming, “No, don’t do it! What about that work/life balance you wanted? You are past retirement age, you know. And this lady wants you to work on right through the summer holidays. When will you get to see the family?”
But the kids were lovely. Finding ways of working around their difficulties would be fascinating – previously uncharted territory, the type of challenge I thrive on. They weren’t fitting into schools. Their constant pain and exhaustion, as a result of the syndrome, was too much for them when combined with a normal school day. The mother, though, was being threatened by the authorities for not providing sufficient education.
I said, ‘Yes’.
Of course I did.
For a couple of weeks it went fine. Yes, I did end up doing lesson prep all through the weekends but they seemed to be progressing well and I was enjoying working with them. Then this week they appeared full of smiles but without homework. A casual ‘lost it somewhere in my room’ from one and ‘I didn’t realise you wanted me to do that’ from the other.
Inwardly I was irritated. The homework sheets had taken me ages to prepare. The work I’d planned for this week followed on from what they were meant to have done. Their mother had particularly requested homework. It was meant to protect her from being taken to court… and blah, blah, blah.
Outwardly, I smiled, suggested mildly that maybe they could try to get it done for the following week and carried on. The lessons went fine and I went to bed that night feeling very happy.
Oh I know at least one of my readers knows exactly what’s coming!
I woke up the next morning to a text from the children’s mother. Both of them had told her I was ‘grumpy’ during their lessons. She wondered what was wrong.
I was mortified. The lessons had (I thought) been lovely – lots of laughter and progress. Was I just a delusional old bat? Had I ended up like those elderly lady teachers I remembered from my own school days – miserable and past it? Was it time to stop and give up – to sit in a rocking chair knitting all day?
I flashed a quick message back, saying I had been disappointed that they’d not bothered with the homework, but wasn’t aware of being grumpy about it; that I’d tried hard to keep the work lively and enjoyable and so forth.
Then I sat and thought.
Why was I choosing to be so upset by this? Why had this incident shown up in my life? What did it have to teach me?
The reply came almost at once, in a further message from the children’s mum. She hadn’t wanted to upset me. She just felt she had to be authentic and tell me their reaction. It wasn’t my words or actions they had reacted to, it was my feelings. They were, she added, extremely sensitive and picked up on the energy people projected.
That heart-based telepathy thing.
So I thanked her – and the universe – for providing me with that reminder. I told her about my last blog post, on exactly this subject, and promised to attempt to be more open and authentic in future.
See what I mean about being hoist with my own petard? This communicating-from-the-heart business is not easy. I’m glad to have these two young teachers. Like all good teachers, they’ve appeared just as the student is ready 🙂