"Don't let them win," my sister told me when I texted her that these nasty eighth graders were going to bring me to tears.
Signing up for a substitute job is always risky. All you are given is a time, place, subject/grade, and the name of the teacher you are subbing for. You can have a wonderful day or a completely horrendous one, and it all depends on what kind of students you happen to have.
I hate that these students have so much control over my happiness, especially because I am letting them. I do not have thick skin. I expect students to listen to me when I ask them to work instead of talk. I don't expect them to shout back, "I am working!" when it is obvious they are not as I stare at their blank pages.
I'm not supposed to let them get to me. I shouldn't invest so much of myself into kids that aren't my own. I may never see them again in my life. However, I can't help but feel for them. It is because I know they can do better.
I know the eighth grader who tells me she is going to drop out after the ninth grade so that she can join the Air Force can do amazing things if she wants to. The student who says, "I don't get it," and gives up right away just needs more patience.
I know that they can be respectful to their elders. They are capable of not rolling their eyes at me when I ask them to spit out their gum. They can be so much more.
Last week was traumatizing. The Hubby told me to quit when he heard me crying uncontrollably. He said that me crying because of a job is not normal and not worth it. "You're not used to dealing with such ignorant people," he explained.
And he's right.
"I'm writing your name down for the teacher to deal with you tomorrow," I say.
"Why? I didn't do anything wrong," the student will scream at me.
"You are being disruptive and I have asked you multiple times to stop talking and start working," I explain.
"You said we could talk if we worked!"
"But you're not working," I respond, patiently.
"Why are you writing my name down?!"
"Stop arguing with me. You're being disrespectful."
"I'm not arguing!"
But working makes me feel useful in this household. I love it when money deposits into our bank account because of something I did. We have so many things we want to do upon his return, and The Hubby should not have the burden of paying for all of it.
So every time I click "accept job" I cringe a little bit and hope for the best. I am terrified of each job I sign up for. Days of dealing with awful students have not made me any stronger, but instead they wear me down. And yet I continue because I want to better myself. I want to show myself that I can do this.
"It's only one day," I remind myself.
I don't have to be perfect at my job. In fact, I can be like any other substitute and just read while the students throw trash around the room and sit on desks. But that's not how I do things. I give it my all or I don't do it at all.
I don't want to give up on these students quite yet.