Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Adolescence Decodified

Last night's dream. I visited a former high school teacher of mine, a literature teacher who I liked very much. I don't fully remember the reasons for my being there, and at times during the visit I mixed her up with another very teacher of mine, a history teacher very influential to me in ways I'm just beginning to understand.

Weirdness: the teacher recognized me and was happy to see me.

Weirdness: I was digging through her clutter in her classroom and found one of her old notebooks. She was excited about this too.

Evidence of a power-dream: As I bid farewell to her we embraced and she was crying.

I awoke under the spell of those emotions, but it's hard to wake up sobbing with a CPAP mask on your face.

I recall hearing at one point that this teacher (in real life) had passed away too young, sometime after I graduated.

There are teachers who do not know how much I appreciate them, because I never told them. This should be a fairly obvious new year's activity on my part.

As I look back at various influential adults during my adolescence, the ones I hate the most are the ones who stepped on me. Emphasized what I was doing wrong. Punished me verbally (and occasionally physically) for not matching their vision of...something. Obviously something I did at age 12 or 13 was a mirror for something in their adult selves they couldn't stomach.

But the ones to whom I am most grateful are those who allowed us teens to grow without unnecessary critique, judgment, slam-downs. Interestingly, the best teachers kept things slightly impersonal.

As I look more deeply into the teaching field, initially in an effort to add some meaning to my own meandering, self-focused adulthood, I am seeing so much value there. I want to be a support without trying to be a parent. Adolescence is a time when people who aren't your parents become important. It would be so easy to blow it as a middle school or high school teacher. Such a tightrope. Loving intentions are what fuel all truly successful people. I don't mean capitalist or career/ambition successes. I mean what I've always meant by success: making a difference.

These are new, early morning, post-dream thoughts, but I think I'm onto something.

One more odd thing about the dream. At the end of it, there were students gathering around to bid be farewell, along with the teacher. At the back of the classroom were a bunch of art projects (for some reason.) One of the kids picked up his clay monkey baby, which came to life, jumped on this teacher, and tried to suck her breast. Of course, at this point, my sister appeared in the dream and started laughing. It's the sort of thing she'd laugh about. Me too.

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