It occurred to me today that I haven't uttered a: "Yes, my love", "Okay, poppet" or "Thank you, sweetheart" for weeks. Pre-Dexter, I never spoke to my students in this way. Post-Dexter, I do just sometimes go 'a bit mum' on them.
It saddens me that I haven't had the inclination for this recently. It's not them: it's the tiredness, the weather, the targets, the marking, the eight-week term, the vitriolic 'teacher-bashing' in the media, and the lack of 'me' left for such spontaneous spoken kindness.
I've been a bit of an old bag today: focusing students on assessments; banging on about grades; insisting that exam prep is boring but necessary; getting tough about homework. I've lost sight of the smiles, the encouragement, the empathy, the softly softly and the stickers!
I've been reflecting on why this might be this evening, and I think it starts with me. I had a meeting after school as part of our appraisal system. I used it as a forum to vent a little about how challenging my return to work post-maternity leave had been and how, you know, I'd done okay - considering...
I was surprised and thrilled by the generous complimentary feedback I was given about how I am perceived in my job; if you want the truth, it made my day. And that's when it made sense. The kindness has to start with a focus on oneself.
I cannot continue to carry the guilt that Dexter really does hate the long journey home, that he actively ran away from me at pick-up today and that due to rubbish traffic, I spent forty-five minutes with him before putting him to bed. In that forty five minutes, he was washed, dressed in clean clothes, sung to, read to, cuddled and told he's loved - a lot. He soon fell sound asleep in a warm, clean, safe environment.
The husband is out at a gig. I didn't bring my school bag home, but instead, made fajitas for one, drank a glass of wine, ate a giant bar of chocolate, watched my beloved 'Bake-Off' and am soon heading for a bath and bed, hopefully before ten.
This post isn't intended as a call for sympathy or pity, or even a forum for a cathartic whine. It's more a reminder which I've now committed to writing, that sometimes, we just need to be a little kinder to ourselves. Okay, poppet.