“I don’t wanna hold your hand! I’m mad at you- gah!” Sid said marching down the stairs to the bus. It’s partially policy we hold the kids’ hands when they walk down the stairs, for balance, safety, etc. At this point in the day, Sid’s had enough coddling and doesn’t want the help. Barely at 5 years old, you’d think he’d need it, but trust him- he doesn’t. Sid has a core body strength that would put Pacquiao in jeopardy, let alone an innocent teacher trying to hold his hand. I’m not a teacher though. I’m a paraprofessional.
Last year went swimmingly. I was introduced to Sid, who’s been diagnosed with Emotionally Behavior Disorder (EBD), as a one-on-one paraprofessional. We worked well in the beginning of the tenure; the road got expectantly rocky, but soon found a balance throughout the year. Back to the school with the kids and a cast of new characters as well, I had long found my niche and repoire with the new school year of Pre-K students. On the brink of leaning towards shows and modeling for spending & saving money, I received a call from Sid’s school saying they would need a paraprofessional for the school year up to December. “Perfect!” I thought. A woman left on maternity leave, and the shuffle of staff wound up leaving a paraprofessional position open. I immediately agreed to the position. No hesitation, I had two days notice before I was back in the classroom chasing down 3 year-old escape artists, and tending to young genius minds. Truly loved the job… but, as they say “all good things must come to an end”.
What Sid doesn’t know, is that I won’t be coming back after today. Last school year’s last day of school had an appropriate goodbye, adieu, and hug at the end. However, for this- the end is so impromptu, I don’t even know how to say goodbye to the kid. Hired as a general para for the entire classroom, Sid and I still had a connect that fostered from last year. So, when he doesn’t want his hand held, I simply do not pursue it and keep the conversation going. Since Sid had been doing so well from his entrance to the school, his willingness to be vulnerable had gone up. That vulnerability lived in the listening, the cooperating, building some kind of relationship and accountability with the teachers.
Stepping on the bus, looking out from the dim tint of the window, he frantically waved his hand to me. The end of the school day. I waved back, pressed my hand against the window… and there it is. It’s over. Somehow the shuffle of the woman on maternity-leave got derailed. A series of staff shifts later… and I’m out. Not ideal and anything but what I expected.
After a series of VH1 behind-the-music moments on tour the past weekend, I received a call from my boss’ boss late Sunday night. She informed me of the staff shuffle, asked me to come in on Monday, but that it’d probably be my last day at the school. I haven’t even digested the magnitude of my exit until now. What the hell are those kids going to think? Where’s the accountability in the equation? What’ll they say to Sid and the rest when they ask about me? I’m at a loss. Money is always replaceable, but time is an impossibility. I’ll be gone by January, and in no spirit to think about this until maybe my return to Minneapolis. I’d assume at some point I’ll get a call from the school to cover for someone, but what of it…
When we ruled the schoolyard, the hallways of elementary school- we absolutely loathed substitute teachers, part-time youth workers in and out of the building like a restaurant, and above all held no respect for any adult that wasn’t willing to stick around. It was the ones that stood like monoliths that impacted us the most. Given the kid’s only 5, it wouldn’t be right to waltz back in there on a substitute shift. I’d like to think the time is much greater than that.
No job, several songs into a mixtape, The Blend soon to release a new album next month… I know where this is headed. I had a regiment going, a sleep plan, a schedule if you will- but now, I absolutely know where this is headed. The first thing to go will be the sleep schedule. I’ll be up ‘til 2am or later every night writing, typing, and emailing. Next, I’ll be of no use to anyone or anything other than my notebook, backpack, Jake, and the handful of people I tour with. I’ll keep in touch with people out of town more than anyone in Minneapolis, the track of time will begin to slip… and then it’ll happen: road trip. I’ll just pile into the car and take the f off. Nothing wrong with it, but when I have no reason to stay in one place, I begin to slip into everywhere else but home.
Sucks to be out of work in less than 24 hours notice, but I don’t think there’s a better candidate than myself to handle it. However, I have gathered that when working with kids either I’m there on part-time duty or I’m all in. I don’t wanna hop in and out of a kid’s life like that. Most the students have situations where police, parents, and/or professionals are rotating in & out of there life like a broken record. My long term goal is to develop a foundation of trust and responsibility between myself and the students. This past process has been anything but. Sadly as well, the trust between me and the employer has been frayed to suspect. When anyone can drop you within less than a day’s notice… there is no room for promise afterwards.
Sid buckles into his seat. The bus pulls away… There they go. The young genius’ and future of the city all in one bus headed to their respective homes and daycares. Easily I’ve learned more from them than any school that’s fostered my attention.
Kick ass and take names, Sid. The world is yours, don’t let’em tell ya any different.