Seeing Yourself Through Other Eyes

I’m back from the trip to Toronto with Gal Smiley and her eighth grade class.

I wrote about a dozen blog posts in my head while I was away, because that is how I process. But now that I am back, I find I don’t really want to wallow.

So to sum up:

  • Some of the boys on the trip were jerks.
  • I let their behaviour really get under my skin.
  • There was an incident where I kind of blew my top at them, in an inappropriate manner.
  • They laughed in my face and told me they didn’t have to listen to me, and I cried a whole bunch, and felt totally embarrassed and humiliated.

So! It wasn’t exactly a great time. Luckily for me, Gal Smiley had no awareness at all that this had happened (possibly doesn’t even still). She had a very nice time and her friends were wonderful so I’m happy about that.

I spent a lot of time after The Incident processing and self-analyzing. I beat myself up for my well-established tendencies to bossiness and nosiness, which had bloomed out of control on the trip. I gave myself firm lectures on how I need to get my menopause emotions under control, stat.

I wanted to be the Best Trip Supervisor Ever, but although you might think that means being active and involved, I think it actually would have been easier for the teachers if I was more of a warm body, willing to be directed and told what to do, but otherwise on the sidelines. I tried to be that for the remainder of the trip and it was better.

Most of all, I had this really weird flash where the boys were laughing at me when I could really see myself through their eyes. It was the first time I have ever felt truly old. I could hear myself barking at them about The Rules, The Rules, and I sounded to my own ears like a bitter, cranky old woman, angry at youth. Wanting to exercise what sad, little power I had before I vanished completely.

I have probably thought about this incident about 1000x more than any of those boys. It’s come and gone for them, hopefully for the teachers on the trip too.

But I have changed. I am different now. I can see what some part of the world thinks of me and it isn’t pretty.

After The Incident, I was sitting on the bus with dark glasses and tissues and I was sitting behind one of Gal Smiley’s best girl friends. And she casually pointed out to me a cool license plate as it was going by – “AZ IF.” And I cried anew, because she was kind, and because we shared a geeky interest in license plates, and she talked to me like I was just any other person. Maybe it is possible in this world to find the kind of people who are like you, who value you, no matter what your age or station or mistakes or damage.

But it will take some soul searching to get over it all, I think.

8 thoughts on “Seeing Yourself Through Other Eyes

  1. I have been thinking about you this week knowing you were in my ‘hood (so to speak) and wondering how it would all go down.

    I had hoped for a post similar to the camping thing (where everything was ‘fine’ and not at all the drama you might have anticipated before the trip).

    I’m sorry. I know teen boys can be jerks. I also know of grade 8 trips where female teacher friends of mine said the girls were the worse trouble makers. So it probably goes both ways…

    My son tells me often that his grade 7 teacher always yells at them. I try to let him see another light by mentioning things I personally observe when I yell at him. I try to imagine how it must be for her when she’s got 15 tween and teen boys all doing stupid stuff and they don’t listen to her and respect the rules…mainly, I try to encourage him to not behave in such a way that results in yelling.

    I’m sure I fail every time. sigh

    Bottom line: you were a helping hand, not a teacher with experience in these things, and most like, the majority of people on that trip appreciated you. You were there to lend a hand, you did that with your best intentions, and the boys who acted the way they did are not worthy of any more of your energy.

    Also, hormones suck and blogging helps. 🙂

    ps sorry for the lengthy comment. ❤

  2. Shyla

    I’m so sorry you experienced that. I echo rheostaticsfan, be kind to yourself, you meant well and were so very kind to volunteer to supervise. Give yourself a hug know their parents would’ve appreciated it if they knew their child was behaving that way.

  3. KristaR

    Oh Lynn. I’m so sorry that happened. I expect if it was me on that trip I would be writing the same blog post.

    There was an incident at W’s 4th birthday party (you were there) I felt really on edge the whole time and completely not relaxed. I’d never had that many kids over before and I felt like I had no clue how to look after them all and keep them entertained. An unplanned game of hide and seek began with gentle reminders about being careful with the doors. One door slammed so hard I thought for sure someone had gotten maimed. My stress level went up a dozen notches and I screeched “HEY!” in a ridiculously loud and over-reactive kind of voice and then there was complete silence. I went upstairs to find the sweetest little girl with her shoulders heaving and silent tears running down her face and she asked me why I was yelling at her. I spent the rest of the party feeling terrible, trying to soothe her and trying to figure out how to tell her mom that I made her cry. In the end she was fine, mom was fine, yet I still think about how I lost it inappropriately. I learned from this incident, however, when I think back on it I also realize I spent an inordinate amount of time beating myself up over it.

    You blew up at some jerky boys who deserved it – likely you and the teachers had every reason to blow up at them multiple times during the trip. They are all fortunate you were there to help and I’m sure everyone appreciates your giving of your time to help out. I I agree with Claudette, the jerky boys are not worthy of any more of your energy. I hope you will be able to hang on to the good memories of the trip – you created a good one for Gal Smiley just by being there.

  4. Shannon

    Some times kids are jerks. Some times we aren’t perfect despite our best intentions. Hindsight is always 20/20 and there is little value in holding onto a regrettable moment. Having spent many an hour in my own bed worried about interactions I wished had gone differently, I feel ya. Be kind to yourself. Also volunteers are so hard to come by, your time was appreciated.

  5. Zhu

    Poor you! Kids this age can be real assholes. I mean, I wouldn’t want to go back to being a teen mostly because of other teens.

    For some reason, I thought Canadian kids were nicer than French (and generally European) kids. Every time I see teens here, they look… I don’t know, harmless, while your average French class is meaner than Trump.

    Eh, you’re not their mum. And also, you can acknowledge you’re a good mum because your kids don’t act like jerks 😉

  6. smothermother

    Kids are jerks, and especially teenage kids. I agree with everyone here. You were volunteering, you aren’t their parent, and you had the best intentions in mind. Don’t beat yourself up about it too much (I know how hard it is replaying things over and over and over. I’m so guilty of that!). While self reflection is always good, be careful you don’t stare at your navel too long and forget to see all the awesomeness that you are. *hugs*

  7. What a difficult challenge, dealing with those boys! While you might regret your choices, you most certainly acted in the best way you could in that moment. Given your professions, you don’t get as much practice dealing with difficult people, so it makes it challenging when you encounter such situations. Very few people are born with conflict resolutions skills. We learn those dealing with crap in the workplace. No judgement on your career choice! It just means situations like this will catch you more off guard.

    While I never like to see you suffer, I suppose the silver lining is that you had an opportunity to do some introspection. That doesn’t always mean you need to change yourself though. Your last line is what’s key here, IMO. Do the things that you like. Be with the people you like and who like you.

    There is very little in the world that we MUST do, although for some reason our brains try to convince us otherwise. There is nothing wrong with avoiding the hard stuff, be it people, places or things. And if you get in a situation that doesn’t feel right, be the wallflower. Do it half-assed. Maybe you won’t turn in a top performance, but if no lives are in danger, does it matter?

    I know that achievement brings meaning to many people, so I’m not saying check out of everything. I’m just saying choose situations that will allow you to shine and avoid the others. I don’t believe in improving weakness (and neither does the Strengthsfinder movement – check it out! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Now,_Discover_Your_Strengths).
    Instead, nurture your strengths. And you have many strengths, my love.

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