Don’t Touch The Bathroom Pass (and other life advice from a teacher)
A few years in the classroom, a few interactions with teenagers and life has taught me a few valuable lessons in the way only a career in public education can.
After watching teenage girls cruise down the hallway with shorts shorter than their hoo-ha:
Freedom of expression makes you who you are. Your words, your gestures, your style all combine to give your first impression to the world. Think hard about what you want that impression to be. The well-dressed but opinionated know-it-all who speaks before he thinks? The young-at-heart grandma who still wears skin-tight mini skirts? Or perhaps a thugged-out teenager with saggy pants and a soft heart? There is a place in this world for all types, but make sure you carve out a place that causes no harm to others, that your freedom of expression has the best interest of all of humanity in mind. Monitor those parts of you that could hurt, scar, or harm another human being. Like loose lips, so flabby with gossip they jiggle worse than a muffin top in skinny jeans. Or misplaced pride so blatant it produces a cringe worthy of a hairy plumber’s crack.
Whether you’re a teenage girl with a rockin’ bod who just barely makes dress code, or a hairy middle age man with a secret fondness for Richard Simmons workouts, show your best side. Metaphorically and literally speaking…
Life Advice #1: Your shorts should be longer than your genitalia
After watching scores of students fiddle with their crotch and smile:
Friends come in all shapes and sizes. New and old. Bright and shiny. Dirty and worn. Maybe your friends are clear and sharp. Maybe they’re frazzled and cracked. Whatever they are, friends are great. Family can be friends, colleagues can be friends. Classmates can be friends.
Cell phones cannot.
Cell phones are wonderful devices that help us work with our colleagues, connect with our family and communicate with our friends. But cell phones are not people. They can’t hug you, touch you, or laugh at your jokes. They might do great things like tell you the weather or track your homework. But they also fall in toilets, butt-dial ex-boyfriends, and make you look like you’re fiddling with inappropriate parts of your body under your desk when you should be learning about biology.
Prioritize the humans in your life. Don’t fall for the glowing temptress. No matter how much time you spend with her…
Life Advice #2: Know your cell phone (tablet, laptop) will never love you
After the annual cleaning-out-of-the-lockers in June:
Your life is one big storage locker of everything that makes you who you are. It’s got your family, your friends, your bright ideas, your bad ideas, your thoughts, values and probably a few weird things you hope no one ever sees, like your collection of superhero underwear. That’s why it’s a big, life-size storage locker. Not like the little puny ones they gave you in high school. Yet like the puny one you had in high school, your storage locker likely has a lot of crap you don’t need.
Clean out your locker from time to time. Get rid of that which no longer serves you. Like the Geometry test you failed, the hot girl who turned you down at the homecoming dance, and the moldy lunch you didn’t even know was in there.
Old baggage only serves to make you look like a slob. And if you don’t take care of that overflowing locker of outdated baggage, it becomes someone else’s problem. Your boss doesn’t want excuses about why your project failed. She just wants you to do better next time. The custodian doesn’t care that you left school early due to a dentist’s appointment. He just doesn’t want to pull a moldy bologna sandwich out of your locker in July.
Whether you’ve got unresolved issues with ex-boyfriends or leftover lunches…
Life Advice #3: Don’t let bologna rot in your locker
After multiple choatic trips outdoors in rain, sleet, and snow for unplanned fire drills:
Life likes to kick you in the nuts (or punch you in the boobs) occasionally. Sometimes this comes in the form of a phone call telling you your grandma just died. Other times, you lose your spouse, your job, your life savings in a fierce game of strip Uno.
Whatever you do, don’t panic. In every life crisis you have two choices: calmly respond, or frantically react. The former might actually get you somewhere. The latter usually results in flashing lights, crying kindergarteners, and a trip to the principal’s office.
No matter how unexpected the crisis, stop, think, and take measured action but…
Life Advice #4: Never pull the fire alarm
After twelve years in the classroom:
In short, life is filled with things that are gross and dirty and do you no good. Like toxic relationships, processed foods, and reality tv. Avoid that which is germ infested, detrimental to your health, or just makes you feel nasty inside. Even if the Hostess cupcake calls to you with her siren song. Even if that friend promises it will be just one beer. You know the things that are bad for you, even if they seem cute and adorable – like a little stuffed monkey sitting on a teacher’s desk.
That monkey has unaccompanied hundreds of teenagers to public school bathrooms. It will not tell you where the teenagers sat it down or left it hanging. It has seen unspeakable horrors. It is an unspeakable horror.
In life, wherever you go, and whatever you do…
Life Advice #5: Don’t touch the bathroom pass