I (dis)love you

In the state where I work we are approaching the end of the school year as we start in the beginning of August. Our 5th graders are heading off to middle school. Many of us staff members will breathe a sigh of relief as this cohort of kids has been extremely challenging in terms of behavior. The root issue is that these kids appear to be completely uncaring about showing appropriate respect for adults. I continually marvel at the fact that ten-year-old children can step to adults so easily. At the risk of sounding like some crotchety alta cocker, in my day it was unfeasible that a child would talk back or disregard an adult to the extent that I’ve seen this year. There was the occasional outlier but that kid was perceived to have serious developmental issues. Sometimes, that kid would be taken out of the classroom and never seen again, presumably sent to some kid version of a North Korean gulag to be reconditioned or perhaps even abandoned.

As I’ve written about in other posts I’m fully onboard with the idea that behind the defiance is a child that is likely dealing with a lot outside of school. However, I’m also just a flawed human being with my own set of emotions, boundaries, and limits. It’s impossible for me to embrace each child and make it my project to save them. Over the years I’ve established bonds with a few kids and was able to help steer them towards making better choices at school but I don’t think that any given teacher can connect with any given child.

I think it’s fair for me to say that I care about every single kid at our school as a unique human being full of talents and joy. It’s also fair of me to say that while I love their humanity I might dislike some of them for the way they regard me, other adults, and their peers. I’ll go even further to say that if I saw some of these kids outside of school once they’ve left us, I would not acknowledge them. In one case, I would cross the street as the child in question actually frightened me with his defiance and hair-trigger, erratic behaviors.

Does it make me a shitheel to acknowledge this stuff or am I just acknowledging something that we’re not supposed to say out loud?