Saturday, October 27, 2007

dramatis personae

i'm waiting for my laundry to finish drying. i haven't written in a while. lots of internal wrestling in my head that is best done off the internet. difficult, but good, i think in the long run.

it is difficult to get a foothold in these kids' lives. they are overscheduled. the pace of life in this area is speedy and high pressured. if i have a hard time keeping up as an adult then these kids are on some serious overdrive. oh, to be young and adrenalized. add to that the nature of this commuter church and geographical spread of the congregation, i have had to adapt to new ways of connecting with kids.

so i'm on facebook (getting whupped on in scrabulous, i may never be productive again because of this game), and i text message and email. and i make phone calls. this is the closest i have ever felt to being a freakin' telemarketer. i've had several awkward phone conversations. this actually happened when i first started:
me: hey, is ____ home? this is audrey calling from church. i just wanted to say hi.
mom of student: oh sure, hold on a second. (holding hand over phone and yelling) ____, audrey is calling for you!
(muffled hollering, all of which i can hear)
student: who?
mom: you know, from church, the new ____ (name of previous high school director)
student: ... i don't want to talk to her.
mom: you are going to talk to her! she just wants to say hi.
i consider shouting into the reciever that i can STILL HEAR HER! and that i feel so validated by being described in terms of my predecessor. student gets on phone. i say hello, invite to youth group, and am met with monsyllabic answers. end of conversation. it is so absurd that i can't help but laugh at the situation.

or this:
me: hey what's up? would you like to go see this movie tonight?
student: i can't, i'm going to a family dinner with my grandparents.
me: .... oh. okay. (realize that i have run out of things to say)
then a few minutes of painful small talk about school and then i get off the phone. and realize that i feel as nervous as a teenager asking someone out that just got rejected. what the hell?

my friend described the key to her experience substitute teaching as developing a persona and sticking with it to grab the kid's attention. so my persona, which admittedly isn't really that much of a stretch, is that i am awkward. i kind of play it up for them a bit. it's actually kind of fun. it is really an inescapable part of life. i don't really mind looking a tad foolish in front of them; i told one kid, honestly, would you want to see someone who looks like they have it all together in the front all the time? no, you'd just sit there and kind of hate them. and the kids that act cool? it's fun to scandalize them by being goofy around them, as if what i was doing would lower their cool quotient. they deserve it.

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