If you don’t work in a school, I want you to think about going to the dentist to have a cavity filled. Think about the anxiety while you are waiting to be brought to the back, the moans and cries around you when you get back there, and the impending whirring and grinding of your teeth. Then the procedure- jabbed in the mouth, a little relief, then buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz- you don’t really feel it but O.M.G. when will this end? It drags out forever and you are on the verge of <insert almost any emotional reaction> then it is over. It took minutes but felt like hours and when it’s over you literally don’t have any concept of time. You get the bill and think “Damnit! I am going to do better this time. Brush, mouthwash, AND floss”!
This is all symbolic of working in education- I don’t care what your “Title” may be. We all feel the tinge of anxiety in the morning. Am I going to be all I can be for my kids? Are they going to learn and grow into better humans? Am I enough? Did I put on enough antiperspirant?
Followed then by the moans and sighs of those negative Nelly’s (STAY OUT OF THE LOUNGE) and of course, sometimes the students who sometimes are not ready to get started or don’t feel good, or have a pencil, hungry, tired, abused, neglected, rejected…
Then the routine (our saving grace)- we get started on our work, the same way we do everyday. Suddenly, the anesthetic kicks in (figuratively LOL). We are on our game…the big show- the perfectly orchestrated schedule known to all: attendance, warm-ups, I do-We do-You-do, group work, hugs and high 5s. You can’t beat this feeling! It goes by so fast!
Then you remember your cavity. She’s just sitting there slouched over; she’s sick/dirty/hurting/you get the picture. Should we just pull her? Get rid of the pain? No. You are going to be the dentist and scrape away at the bad to get to the good. She is worth the extra time and effort. Does it hurt you that she is not doing her work or that she is hurting? I hope it is the 2nd choice. Give her attention, love, space, food; model compassion and empathy. Save the tooth by fixing the cavity. Every bit of effort will make a difference. You can and will be the difference for this child. This short amount of time that seems so fleeting will change the trajectory for this child. The sharp edges may be a little softer but the pain will be gone. You can’t save every tooth but it is in your responsibility to try.
AND- don’t even get me started with how the effects of good dental health could’ve prevented the cavity in the first place- but I think you get my drift.