Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Heather Rambles About Her Job and the Olympics - But Not At the Same Time

So this has been a tough summer. I love, love, love my new class but they are a handful to say the least. They're all very explosive - it comes hard and it comes fast - and they're all runners. I've becoming very familiar with the layout of our building and the best spots to corner someone. I think the adjustment has gone very well considering I've only been in the room for four and a half weeks but they definitely keep me on my toes.

I've taken a particular liking to one of the kids. He's probably the most challenging. He lived the first part of his nine-year-old life in a very violent, abusive situation and it shows because he blows very quickly and he gets very aggressive. Twice this summer we've had to pull the other kids out of the room while he completely trashed it - kicking over chairs, flipping desks, throwing papers and pencils around the room. When he lifted the teacher's computer monitor over his head we finally escorted him out (whether it should have gone that far first is up for debate) and let me tell you, putting your hands on a kid who's already flipping out? Not that enjoyable. He's got a good heart - as most of them do - and he's really funny but he's a tough-talking little guy who already has way more walls up than any kid should.

But today kiddo had a great day. There was a point when it became clear he was starting to escalate - the body languate, the face, the pacing - and when I asked him if he wanted to go for a walk and take a break from what he was doing, he actually agreed which is a very big deal for him. He took my hand and we took a little stroll around the building so he could have a few minutes to chill out which he did pretty quickly. Right before we went back in the room I stopped him, put an arm around him and pulled him toward me and said, "Hey, bud, I'm really proud of you for taking a break before you got too upset. That was exactly the right way to handle things," and then I gave him a soft little head-butt on the side of his head - he's tall so his head is not too much lower than mine when we're standing side-by-side. He pulled back and said, totally shocked, "Did you just kiss me?!" I said, "No, I head-butted you, you goof." And he said, "Oh, okay..." and then added, a little more softly, "But you can if you want to." These kids, I'm telling you, they break my heart in good and bad ways all at once.

And now back to your regularly scheduled sporting news...

For a few months now people have been telling me how we're really lucky that part of this hockey off-season is going to be filled by the wonder and spectacle of the Olympics. Too bad I hate the wonder and spectacle of the Olympics.

I hate the pomp and circumstance of the Opening Ceremonies. It's fifteen hours of people walking around in stupid outfits. I hate the commercialism of things like the USA's official candy bar and the USA's official fast food sponsor. Please. Most of these Olympians have probably never sniffed a Snickers bar or a bag of McDonald's fries. I hate watching people run in circles around a track that leads nowhere. I hate listening to people go on and on about the beautiful swimmers in their stupid little suits. I hate watching puberty starved little girls flip around on mats and experience the peak of their careers at 14. I hate being told to care about sports where the winner is based on the subjective opinion of a judge. If I can't watch an event and know who the winner is, I don't care. I hate teams consisting of professional athletes who couldn't give a rat's ass about playing for their country pretend like they do.* I hate softball being tossed out of the Olympics with baseball for no good reason at all. I hate weeks of endless stories everywhere about something I'm not that interested in. It's impossible for me to avoid the Olympics because they'll be all over every single channel for the next forever and a day. I hate the manufactured drama of the Olympics. I hate that the networks decide weeks ahead of time who the stories are going to be. I do love when it doesn't quite work out the way everyone planned - see Dan and Dave, 1992. I hate the blown-up pageantry when it's usually a small moment that everyone remembers later. Dan and Dave were a bust in 1992 but who doesn't remember Derek Redmond's father running out of the stands to help his injured son finish his race? That's the kind of moment you can't manufacture and I hate that the bombast threatens to overwhelm things like that. I hate "inspirational" stories about kids who have grown up on the other side of the country from their families in order to pursue an Olympic dream. I don't care. Does that make me a bad person? I still don't care.

So in conclusion, I hate the Olympics.

You know what I do love a little bit though? Badminton. But that's it.

* - I'll exclude hockey players since I think playing on the national team is still a big deal for a lot of them.

17 comments:

Jaime said...

There is nothing more rewarding than when you see a breakthrough with a student. Some of my favorite moments are when you expect chaos but instead get an epiphany. I used to soak up every moment with one little boy I taught that refused to speak. When he would finally say something it was like sunlight soming into a dark room... breathtaking.

TheTick said...

I could give or take the Summer Olympics now...I don't care for basketball, since the first Dream Team. I'm annoyed by the Phelps coverage enough to avoid most swimming despite the women's events. I like some of the more niche things, which I should be able to catch now that a bazillion channels cover it but I'd rather have real sports.

/ramble

Heather B. said...

Jaime, it will never stop amazing me how one of those little epiphanies can suddenly make you forget weeks worth of challenges just like that.

Tick, I do like the Winter Olympics a little more - I'm really just not that interested in the summer events - but yeah, I'm with you. I'd rather watch baseball or hockey. The Olympics are not a substitute for either of those in my book.

LeeAndrew said...

Well if playing for you country is still a big deal is a prerequisite then it's still a big deal to play for your country in tennis, soccer and basketball (except for the USA). I'm not sure there's much national pride in skiing and snowboarding and all that junk.

The real problem with the Olympics is that we live in the United States, which is where A) everything is hyped too much and B) most of the athletes are punks. If we lived in like Sweden I bet the Olympics would be cool.

Heather B. said...

Lee, by no means am I saying I like the Winter Olympics. Just that I like them a little more than the Summer Olympics.

Kate said...

First half of this post: You are a saint and thank you for doing such important work and for occasionally sharing these stories with us. I'm sorry your job is so hard sometimes, but I'm so grateful that you do it.

Second half of this post: Hether your a tewl. The olimpics are totlly rad and if you cant see that your a bigger tewl then I thouht.

Pookie said...

Heather, I could not agree more with Katebits about the first half of this post. You story brought tears to my eyes.

Hether, I could not agree more with Katebits about the second half of this post. Your hatred of the Olympics brought even more tears to my eyes. I also hate the Opening Ceremonies. You know how I handle that? I don't watch them. I also hate the overdone stories about the athletes the network decides I want to hear about. You know how I handle that? I don't listen! But I still get to enjoy all the rest of it! The insanity of the Italian ice dancers in Torino! The surprisingly compelling sport of beach volleyball (no, really! I always turn it on for the hot guys and then about ten minutes later I'm like, "Volleyball is the coolest sport ever!")! The incredible tenseness of watching a huge swimming race with a stunning finish! If you don't let the trappings get you down, it's all a sports fan can ask for!

Patty (in Dallas) said...

I'm mostly with you, Heather, on the Olympics. I'm not really looking forward to any of it. But I totally forgot about beach volleyball! Now I'm kind of thinking there might be something to check the schedule for.

Pookie said...

But I totally forgot about beach volleyball! Now I'm kind of thinking there might be something to check the schedule for.

Because it's an awesome sport!

TheTick said...

NBC agrees. ;) The one in pink appears to be giving her partner the finger.

TheTick said...

*pauses for a serious note*

The teaching thing is awesome, just don't quite have eloquent words for you after OD'ing on MST3k.

Heather B. said...

Pookie, I guess my real problem is that even once all the crap is cleared away I don't enjoy the events that much. Yes, including beach volleyball. I will watch a little bit of gymnastic despite my complaints, I'll watch some softball, and I'll get sucked into something really random like badminton or ping-pong. But the biggies - track and field, swimming, diving etc. - just don't do anything for me. If that makes me a tewl, well so be it :P

And thanks for the positive notes about the other half of the post, guys. I try not to post about work too much since it doesn't have anything to do with hockey but sometimes something needs to come out, I guess and hey, there's nothing else going on right now. And for the record, I don't share those stories as a way of fishing for compliments. (Though I'll never, ever turn them down so feel free to give 'em to me :-D)

Sherry said...

"But you can if you want to." These kids, I'm telling you, they break my heart in good and bad ways all at once.

As somebody who dislikes children, this actually made me say the teeniest, tiniest "aww"s...albeit in my head. I have a reputation to maintain.

I'm with you on the Olympics really. The summer ones I couldn't care about and I only really care about hockey in the winter ones. And um...figure skating.

John said...

I also MUCH prefer the Winter Olympics. The summer sports just don't interest me that much.

I'm also one of those people who think that they keep adding too many new sports, and they need to get back to the basics. First, the Olympics is no place for team sports. No basketball, no softball, no baseball (sorry). They should be "contrived." That's hard to explain. Like basketball - it's not a natural thing - it's a contrived set of rules. The Olympic sports should be based on individual speed and strength. Running, swimming, going downhill really fast on skis, etc.

LeeAndrew said...

Ummm...ping pong? I believe they call that table tennis.

Mark B said...

As I mentioned in an earlier comment thread, I actually like the Winter Olympics. I even enjoy watching those crazy events like luge and bobsledding. Maybe it comes from sledding all those years when I was young out in the woods of WNY.

All the events in Summer Olympics bore the heck out of me. I won't be tuning in. Luckily we have preseason football! Okay, not all that exciting, but I do like to watch the young Bills players and wonder if they will make the team.

LeeAndrew said...

My biggest problem with Winter Olympics is they don't compete against each other. In tennis, basketball, soccer, volleyball, table tennis they all play against each other and defend each other. Even in track and swimming they at least all go at once so there is some suspense. Most Winter Olympics they take turns, it's boring. Taking turns is for pansies!