I've never been the one to cry when big things go wrong that aren't directly related to me. It's not that I am selfish, I think that through a series of things that have happened to me throughout my late teens and twenties, I have developed a pretty impressive wall.
When famous people died, I could never relate to the tears and pain that people felt. I've often wondered whether I can work so happily with pupils with Special Educational Needs comes from a very real posibilty that I myself could be sat on the Autistic Spectrum myself.I have always been able to look at horrible situations and think, "That's so sad", but my actual sadness was limited.
But yesterday, when I heard about the Manchester terrorist attack, I cried. Several times. Ugly scrunched up face, heaving tears. I found the internet a strangely empty place, because all I wanted was for everytime that I refreshed the newspapers live accounts that I was reading, for it to be a very bloody late April Fool. But it wasn't. Yet again, someone had decided that they were going to remove someone from earth for their own gain. I'm not even going to bring religion up, because no real religion condones these acts.
I couldn't really understand why this was hitting me so hard, I didn't know anyone involved, all my Manc relatives and friends had marked themselves safe on FB, so there was no direct line to the pain. I remember being 19 when the 7/7 bombings in London happened. I had just failed my driving test for the 3rd time and I was feeling sorry for myself whilst watching Clifford the Big Red Dog when a BBC newsflash came up to turn over as there had been a terror attack. I remembered feeling slightly irritated that Arthur wasn't going to come on after all, as I just needed some non committal tv to numb the fail pain. Going further back, I remember being 15 when 9/11 happened. I actually watched that second plane go into the Twin Towers live, but I was irritated because Chris Moyles wasn't being his usual jovial self, and Radio 1 where only playing sad, calm songs. Again, I just didn't get it. The severity, the enormity, how nothing would ever be the same again.
Fifteen years later, I found myself in a very alien position. I was crying at all of the news reports, the numbers of dead and injured, each tiny moral of information that was fed out stabbed at me. I was floored when the ages started coming through. 8. EIGHT years. How was it even possible that a sweet looking 8 year old could go to a pop concert and never came home?
It wasn't until I went into school that I realised why this was having such an adverse affect on me. I listened to the radio as a 14 year old, who should have been at high school that day, was announced to have passed away. I cried again, just as one of my 14 year olds came into my office for being sent out of a lesson. Yesterday was tough, because for the first time in my teaching career, I couldn't empathise with the pupils I was working with. I had no tolerance for their shitty attitude to learning, or their swearing at staff or their refusal to follow any directions. I was usually the member of staff that would ALWAYS listen to them, but I was so gratefully that every single one of my pupils managed to come into school. Fidget spinners, inappropriate behaviour and all. Why couldn't they just get it? Why would they? Actually screw that, WHY SHOULD THEY? I didn't when I was their age. Yesterday, I was just a short tempered teacher who was pissing them off (I know, two of them told me so). But that teacher was sad, disillusioned and angry at the world that these kids were growing up in. these kids that I genuinely love so much and talk about so much at home to my husband that you would think they were mine!
Tonight I will regroup and go in tomorrow, an reset. I will talk police in the solidarity and the thoroughly British wants and resolve that is coming through. (#BritshThreatLevel I don't get scared until the threat level hits "Replacement Bus Serve"). Because I AM the adult, and they shouldn't really need to understand that they're really bad people in the world, who don't care that you may have a family waiting for you at home, that can't wait to give you a hug or tuck you up into bed. I can try and get them to understand the fateful words that I always share with my departing Year 11's in summer, because it's funny, and they like it when a teacher recognises them as adults enough to swear at them:
Be Kind and Don't be a dick. It's a simple mantra. If you think that you're going to do something that will cause someone hurt or harm. Don't do it. Be kind instead.
Yeah, just be kind and don't be a dick people.