I have always been a bad sleeper. I remember being only seven or eight feeling anxiety about going to bed. I knew I had to sleep, but I was trying to force myself, and then I would be anxious and unable to rest. My mom always said, “Just rest your eyes–it’s almost as good”. Well, at nearly 35, it’s not much better.
About this time, my mom sprung me from my emotional prison, and took me downstairs, where my dad lay in his sweats on the floor, near the Hi-Fi speakers. He was listening to a relaxation tape. It started with your toes and went all the way up to the last piece of your hair. It didn’t help, and it turned out the guy was a crock and a fraud. Go figure.
Through high school, I slept with music on. Embarrassingly enough, it was usually Enya or some form of classical music because otherwise, I’d sing along which defeated the whole purpose. Funny how songs put me right back into my childhood bedroom, desperately trying to fall asleep before a high school midterm, Toad the Wet Sprocket playing on the radio.
It’s been a stressful week, although it should never have been. I work with children. Teenagers in fact. They recently finished personal memoirs, ten chapters to be exact. They love this project because when you are 13 and 14, the world revolves only around you, so they have a lot to say. I always love reading these projects. I learn a lot about my students this way. They confess things to me, like their love of poetry and what it was like when their mom went through chemotherapy. These are good kids I work with, in a good area. And sometimes I have to deal with the kids that tell me about an inappropriate time with an adult, or what they couldn’t tell their mom what happened when visiting grandparents in another country. And I have to report it.
Today I cried over something so simple, so common, and so creatively written. It makes me remember why I love my job. A student wrote about the putting down of their family dog from the dog’s eyes. It almost read like an Anthony Burgess novel. Broke my heart in pieces. Probably because I lost my dog unexpectedly a few months ago. Or perhaps because it was my grandmother’s birthday today and I still miss her. I think though it was how profoundly he captured a moment in nearly everyone’s life, and wrote, at 14, in such a unique, thought-provoking way. A kid who is average, probably even overlooked, nerdy, awkward, and writes already better than most authors I am reading right now.
My phenomenal students are often overshadowed by occasional adults who, with their rigidity and rules and lack of imagination, waste my time, waste my energy, waste my pathos. There are always one or two bad apples in the bunch, right? Just like when I was a kid, I get anxious about feeling anxious about the next day and my interactions with these adults. Always before bed. Always dreading that I can somehow allow one or two people with their twisted, tongued words to hurt my feelings, make me feel at fault, let me take on the problem. How easily I let that wash away 130 beautiful memoirs, filled with hopes, dreams, and potential.
The rain showed up tonight after being forecasted for yesterday and doing nothing. Even though it’s late, I can hear it outside my window, reminding me of my black and white bedroom growing up, red beanbag, hot tea brought to me before bed to help me sleep, Toad in the background. The rain washes all of today away, except what I want to stay with me–the memoirs, the kids, and the dreams we all have that if we pretend we are tired, we will all eventually fall asleep.
So I will let the rain make everything fine, and sleep tonight.
Nothing’s Changed at All- Toad the Wet Sprocket
House of Cards- Radiohead
Going to California- Led Zepplin