Ms. Angela AKA Ms. RA
For the last month I've been substitute teaching a kindergarten class. A class bursting with 21 five and six year-olds who are constantly whining, fussing, laughing, yelling, crying, pouting, fidgeting, poking, pushing, dancing, singing, skipping, hopping, nose-picking, tattling, joking, asking a million questions, tugging on my arm, losing hats and mittens, asking to go to the bathroom every five minutes, fighting over Legos, taking a "time out," falling/rolling on the floor, and operating with enough energy to probably light up a small city. Needless to say, I'm tired.
This kindergarten job was only supposed to be for a couple of days, however due to some complicated weird bureaucratic mix-up (too long and boring to explain), I keep getting called to come back day after day. It's great that I've had a steady job these past few weeks because I really need the work and the stable income. The kids are also delightfully sweet and hilarious and fun when they're not driving me crazy. The other teachers and staff are also nice to work with and it's a pleasant environment to be in for a while. But I want to emphasize a while. I don't want to be teaching these rowdy kindergarteners all year long because my fatigued, sore, inflamed RA body can't handle it. And I wonder sometimes if my sanity can as well.
Teaching is a very physical job, I've been finding out--especially teaching little kids. If I'm not on my feet for most of the seven hours I'm working, then I'm hauling myself up and down from sitting and kneeling on the floor with the students. Or I'm bending and stooping picking up blocks and scraps of paper and mittens and boots and all sorts of random things that are often discarded and strewn across the classroom. Or I'm dancing the Gummy Bear song/dance with them. I'm not only a teacher, but I'm a maid, a babysitter, a lunch lady, a hall monitor, a personal assistant, a nurse, a counselor, and maybe even a surrogate mom. I know I keep saying this, but I have to say it again--IT'S EXHAUSTING! And stressful.
Unfortunately, my RA doesn't respond well to stress, self-inflicted fatigue, spending hours on my feet, or running up and down stairs several times a day to chase down renegade kindergarteners on the loose. Subbing has also made me very sleep-deprived due to having to wake up at a ridiculously early hour every morning. I'm not a morning person. I don't like early mornings. My RA doesn't like early mornings either. Having to drag my stiff body out of bed at 6:00 AM every day is torture.
When I get home from school at around 3:00 PM, I trudge through the door, throw my jacket and purse and stuff on the kitchen table, then I go collapse on the couch in an attempt to relax and recharge. My goal for when I get home is to work on my own things--freelance writing, photography, job applications, etc. But this rarely happens because I'm just too wiped out and some body part usually hurts.
Despite all of this complaining, I do enjoy teaching and substitute teaching in particular, because of the flexibility it gives me to make my own schedule and to try out teaching different grades and in different schools. The flexibility in scheduling is great for someone with RA, I think, because you don't have to work every day in a row if you don't want to (unless you get sucked into a long-term job like I'm in right now). You can take breaks. You can be with crazy wild kindergarteners and first graders for a few days and then suffer the silence of sullen apathetic teenagers the next day. I know that teaching isn't a long-term career goal or choice for me, but for now I'm happy to do it. When my job with the kindergarteners is up, I know I'll miss my little buddies. But I'll also be looking forward to working in a less stressful environment.
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?