Last week was not a good week. It was, in fact, double-plus ungood, and then some. After Tuesday's panic attack I came home and let the poison out – all the crap that I'd bottled up came pouring out in a torrent of tears. On Wednesday morning I was wearing my Scare the Children face – big puffy froggy eyes – and felt as drained as one of Dracula's favourites, so I stayed home, exhausted. Same on Thursday.
By Friday I was physically, if not mentally, in a fit state to return to school. On playground duty I tried to stay close to the walls, so no-one could come up behind me. It was shithouse. No Year 10 on the timetable for that day, though, which was a plus. And then there was the weekend.
After lunch on Saturday with some ex-teaching colleagues, affectionately termed 'the coven', I went to school today, reassured, and armed with an arsenal of strategies, 'just in case'. (Thanks, ladies – you are wonderful!) Nice Mark took me out for dinner on Saturday night, and on Sunday I declared war on Cat Piddle in my house. Quite a productive weekend, it was...
This is where the weird thing happened.
It's very hard to explain – there was nothing tangible – and yet I felt somehow closer to the class. It was as if a barrier of some sort had been removed, and they were more accepting of me. All I can think is that suddenly, after I explained to them what triggers my panic attacks, they saw me as a real person rather than an authority figure? Who knows...very very weird.
Here, I think, is one of the strengths of my school – a lot of the kids are not very academic; they struggle, and many of them actively resist the academic rigours of the place. BUT – amazingly, this group seems to have recognised that particular frailty of mine and decided that it makes me more real(?) human(?) or something. In many places that would be seen as an exploitable vulnerability. These kids didn't see it that way. There seemed to be a real 'connection' in our class discussion today. I'm not saying they were perfect little angels or anything like that – I still threatened them with Fatal Beatings and they still rolled their eyes – but it was different somehow. Hard to put my finger on it, but it was totally unexpected, and a huge relief.
Maybe I will survive my return to the classroom after all.