Yesterday I started my younger art class. I have four kids who are totally new to art and two who are still beginners from last year along with three girls who have been with me for a few years. It was a full class to say the least. This year I have James who is 13 years old and is over 6 feet tall and probably weighs 250. I am not always good at guessing weight, but I would think I am guessing on the low end of the weight scale for James. He is a big boy. Next to him sat a 14-year-old who is not five feet tall yet and certainly does not weigh over 100lbs. Life is interesting that way. All the young artists worked well, and it was a fairly easy day. Several of the mothers warned me that their kids might "act up", "be goofey" during art class and to be sure and tell on them if they did. When they were saying these things, I am sure I had that funny look on my face – the one where I want to comment, but I am not sure what to say because I might say too much. Do they not know who I am? Do they think I won’t deal with their kids right then and there?
In my public school teaching days, I realized that all teachers had different levels of tolerance for misbehavior. Some teachers allowed absolutely no monkey business or talk from students. Others let their students run amok. I think I am kind of in between somewhere. I really like kids, and I like a little fun in the classroom, but I run a pretty tight ship. When I began teaching years ago, my dad did not think I was mean enough or had a "mean look" to be respected. (I am sure my brothers could have told him different.) My mom always said I was her easy-going child, but she knew I would fight if pushed. Maybe I don’t really want to fight; I don’t really like controversy, but will definitely stand up to a challenge. While teaching public school, I developed a look and attitude and voice that demanded respect. It is sort of a hard shell. Sometimes I feel myself slide back into that attitude, and you know, I don’t really like it. I don’t want to have to discipline someone else’s child. I don’t want to have to be hard. Would I do it if I thought it was necessary? In a heart beat!
My own kids often call me "the sergeant". It could be they call me that for several reasons. I have a habit of repeating what Toby says to do (barking out orders). I once remarked that I would like to be a social director on a cruise ship. Bo snickered and said, "You mean drill sergeant! You WILL play volleyball, and you WILL like it!" He continued on with his making fun of me, but I won’t go into all of it. He sometimes calls me "the border-collie" because I want to herd people – direct them. My favorite Peanuts cartoon was Lucy saying, "I am not bossy; my ideas are just better." This bossiness, drill sergeant thing is something I have tried to ease off of. I like to think I have mellowed somewhat – maybe grown a little in this area of my life. Yet, do you think I would let a few homeschooled art kids give me a hard time? I snort at the thought (and cringe a little too).