I can not change what I tolerate

This morning I yelled. But big. At my dogs, at my cat, at my house, at my students.

EX34C_C_YellingLady

I adopted a cat (Betty) a few weeks ago because of the mice. Not into mice. But my big dog (Toby) stalks her and my little dog (Jacob) alternates between ignoring her, stealing her toys, and barking his head off at her. Things have broken (teapots, my pepper plant, wine glasses…) as Toby chases her into the kitchen. This morning I set myself up in a spot in the sunshine to do some coursework and, after a few forgot my coffee, pen, post-its, battery is dead need the charger, trips back into the house I finally settled in to do my readings for this week’s class discussion. Then Toby darts into the house and I hear a crash. I’m guessing that Betty, thinking it was safe (dog-free) ventured out of her hiding spot on the top shelf of my kitchen cabinets and into the house. Toby must have heard this, at which point he chased her back up on top of the fridge, where her food bowl was, which she hit and it crashed onto my ceramic countertop, hitting the coffeemaker, and so I was left with coffee soaked cat food all over the place. Then of course Jacob came in to eat it so I yelled at him, Don’t even think it, but he did, and I threw a towel at him, so he jumped away right into the dog bowl full of water, spilling it everywhere, including on a vacuum cleaner which is impossible to dry with all of its parts and wires.

So that is when I yelled at the dogs, cat, house, my life. One of the things I yelled was, All I do is clean up what is left after you creeps (ok, the actual word was different but I prefer not to repeat it here) destroy my house and I do the same thing at work. Everything’s a mess! Everywhere!

The other day Jacob tore apart a down comforter in my bedroom. Take a moment. Imagine the scene.

Yesterday I only taught 2 periods and managed to get myself all worked up over the blatant disrespect I witnessed in some of my students. Students feeling they could just sit themselves down at any computer and use it – including teacher computers – without permission. Students taking things from my desk or from the top of a pile of my books on a table in the hallway. Not even just to look at or to borrow. Taking. Students leaving newspapers, plastic wrappers, napkins, broken pens, wherever they last were. Students having their own conversations while other students/teachers are addressing the group. Then continuing even after the class is stopped to get silence for the speakers. I have other students also complaining about this, that they can’t focus in class because of a chatty climate of disrespect. I walked into my classroom after lunch and just about lost it when a student was sitting at my desk, checking her email on my computer while behind her I saw written on my white board a student’s name with a few different phone numbers and the caption – Man whore, call after 12.

I am exhausted. I was supposed to go to a New Year’s dinner with my family last night but instead I stayed home. I went to bed at 7:30. I was so tired I could not imagine driving. I didn’t think it was safe.

What is tiring me out is that I am acting reactively. Responding reactively to these annoying day-to-day activities requires way more brain power, brain power that should be conserved for more important activities, than if I approach my life proactively. Instead of yelling at my students, my dogs, my house when something goes wrong, I need to prepare for things to go right. If I tolerate the disrespect, if I tolerate the canine craziness in my house then I certainly can’t change it.

So what can this look like?

At school. I’m starting over on Monday. As if it were day one. Since a third of our students are returning students I assumed that the climate of respect that we worked towards last year would continue. It is mainly those students however that are acting as if my classroom was their private gaming hall. I love that my students are comfortable with me but they are too comfortable. They need reminding and the new students need more structure than I provided them based on my initial assumptions. I need to set them up to succeed, not to get into trouble. At the same time it saves me from turning into a crazy teacher. By exploding once in a while and not changing systems, it shows that I tolerate the behaviour for a while, until I get angry, and then I tolerate it again until the next time. I can’t change my environment if I tolerate what is going on in it.

At home. I need to keep my house tidy. Some things broke because they were on the counter instead of away in a cupboard. But mainly I need to crate Jacob when I am not at home. I don’t like crating dogs, I prefer to teach them where to be and how to be. But that’s not working so much with Jacob. By allowing him to roam the house even after he eats the comforter, poops in the living room, destroys a kleenex box I am tolerating the destruction. And when I don’t want to be interupted I need to tie the dogs up so they can’t dash into the house all goofy-like to chase poor Betty.

In myself. I get frustrated at myself for being so tired and not having the time to do what I want, for having a messy house, for not being able to find that brown blazer I want to wear 5 minutes after I was supposed to leave the house in the morning… I’m hoping that some of the changes I make at home and school will help in this area as well. At least, I’ll start on those two areas and see.

You’re in control you know. It’s your life and it’s up to you to make it what you want it to be. Tolerate nothing. You are in control. This is your life, not a dress rehearsal. – Jim Donovan

Phew. Needed to get that out there.
Enjoy your day. And now that I have cleaned up the coffee flavoured Chicken Soup for the Kitten Lovers Soul and broken glass from my kitchen floor, wiped up the water from all over the dining room, and tied the dogs to trees in the yard, I am ready to get my reading done. Just in case you are interested, it’s on the reliability of oral histories for my course called first nations peoples.

****note added just after posting….****
As I returned to my spot in the sun outside I noticed that, though I could hear Jacob yip, I couldn’t see him. He is now stuck under my deck. He managed to get under it and get his leash wound around something under there. I need to take apart part of the deck to rescue him. Looks like I won’t be getting to my reading this morning.

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Hi Tracy… hope this finds you well and a great post!!!

    You have explained the “inner frustration” of teaching and life extremely well…thanks….but the
    coolest thing that you have done is take that and move “inside yourself” for the answers!!!

    It reminds me of a favorite little quote: “DISCIPLINE YOURSELF BEFORE TRYING TO DISCIPLINE OTHERS”

    When things are a bit crazy…. this really is the last place many of us want to take a look at!

    Your plan sounds great….. be well… mike

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