Thursday, February 08, 2007

Insult to Injury

The mother of two of my art students called to say that her children were going to miss my class. She was very apologetic saying that her children hated to miss art, but that a repairman was coming to her house. Although she had told the man she had to be somewhere (art) he just did not listen to her. She told me how much she appreciated my teaching art and that even her husband could see an improvement in his children’s art. When we got off of the phone, I thought, “Gee! That was nice of her.” My artist’s ego was unruffled.

I run a pretty loose ship when it comes to my art classes. Although I have been in art classes where if you did not show up for class, you pay anyway. It is a great incentive to attend class even when you do not fee like painting. Most of my students do not have much money. In fact, I feel bad having them pay for lessons as it is. Yet, it is my time and teaching that they pay for, and also, I can buy more art supplies with the money. My students come in and drop their money on the table. I do not check to see if they paid. I don’t want to know, and I don’t want to hassle with the money. If they come to art, great. If they pay, great. If a student does not want to be here, he/she might as well not be. As a teacher, I let that slide. As a mother, I would never let it slide with my own children, but that is another story. I tease my students when they don’t come to art telling them they had better have a doctor’s excuse, but the truth is that I want these classes to be fun, and I want the kids to want to be here. If these classes are ever a hassle, I won’t do them anymore.

Now and then, someone does ruffle my artist’s ego. Last week, a mother called to say her children would not be coming to art. That was fine with me – her decision to make. Then she added, “After all, they are just going to be working on that one project. It is not like you will be doing anything important.” I am sure my long pause was noticed while I mulled over what I should say. She continued, “Well, you are not really going to be doing anything are you?” I wanted to answer, “Heck no! We never do anything important. It is just art. I don’t know why you bring your kids here in the first place…” I did not say any of those things. Slow to speak – Slow to anger is a much better way.

It just brought on such a case of déjà vu that I felt myself slipping into the old self. Back in my public school teaching days, there were several times when a parent would say, “I’m sorry little Janie missed your class, but she told me that you were not doing anything anyway.” What? And you believed her? This happened so many times that I did get fairly smart-mouthed about it – a little facetiousness goes a long way. You would be amazed at what parents often said: “I don’t like the grade you gave little Johnny. He wants to get a basketball scholarship and go to college. Now you have messed that up for him.” This was just so messed up on several levels that it was difficult to make a reply that would not be insulting. I usually handed them my grade book and a pencil and said, “Why don’t you give him the grade you want him to have?” They would all look aghast and say that was wrong – they couldn’t do that! Isn’t that what they wanted me to do?

When a kid says something stupid, I am more willing to let it slide. It is just difficult for me when it is a parent who is not only stupid, but insulting.

The picture above is one of my favorites. That is my mother third from the left and my dad on the far right. My Uncle Bobby is on the far left. They are standing in front of The Lodge and The Motherlode in Red River, in 1953 - the summer they met.


Buck Pennington said...

Slow to speak – Slow to anger is a much better way.

Absolutely. I don't know how many times my quick mouth got me in trouble when I was young, but it was a lot!! These days it's a lot easier to let stuff slide.

I love that pic! I looked at it before I read your post and mentally put the time frame around the late 40s. The car, I guess...

The styles wear very well, to my eyes. Can you imagine what people are going to say about a picture of a group of today's kids 50 years from now? With their baseball caps on backwards and their pants falling off? On the other hand, I cringe at some of the pics taken of me in the early '70s. "We" looked pretty damned dumb...

Bag Blog said...

Fashions come and go and return again. Many of today's styles are similar to what we wore in the 70's. Although my hip-hugger, bellbottom jeans were never as low as they wear them today. As for the baggy jeans that boys wear - just ridiculous. Lately, I have seen ladies rolling up their jeans.

I think my father looks quite tuff in the picture. Very cool!

Becky said...

We used to roll up our jeans when I was in high school. I was telling Cody just the other day how when I was young, I thought our fashions were so cool that they would never go out of style. Now I look back and think, "What was I thinking!"

Buck Pennington said...

I think my father looks quite tuff in the picture. Very cool!