Most of what I want to create in this space (and this space) is the ability to try to see things in life that seem, at first, like small differences in the lives of others. It’s been a good exercise for me to write something weekly (ahem!) about ways in which people make a difference and put something out into the universe with the intention of seeing just what comes back to them and me. Though I must be careful to note that I don’t try to do good with the thought that something will benefit me. If it does, it’s intrinsic and simply a bonus. Kind of like getting an extra bit out of the toothpaste tube. You’re excited that you can have fresh breath and you don’t have to go buy more. Yet.

Recently, I got yelled at over the phone by a parent who is unhappy with their child’s educational experience.

Disclaimer: I pink, sparkly puffy heart my job. I spend my days looking around everywhere for a lesson to be learned, to support the hardest working people this planet has to offer, and searching for ways to be grateful that I spent my days being kind to the people who may perform neurosurgery on me should I ever need it. (Hack, cough, spit. Twohy!) But I will NOT be yelled at. I will not take unnecessary shit. I will not allow students the luxury of being unmotivated or privileged or entitled or snotty and then take the heat when they fail to perform up to the standard.

These aren’t mantras, but they are taking shape into who I am as an administrator. They are setting precedents and giving me permission to grow. And yet, in a quest to learn, they are allowing me to err.

As the parent got louder over the phone, so did I. I realized this when my officemates poked their heads out of their doors to see what was happening. He talked in circles and didn’t ever answer my questions, he moved onto other subjects. He was malicious when he spewed venom toward me by stating that he was glad our district was going to the Restructuring Phase and that the superintendent knew what he was doing because I, in his view, wasn’t qualified for my job. He hissed at me that he hoped I would get a demotion in the district debacle.

Eventually, I said that he was welcome to come in and meet with me since I only ever saw him “support” his son at basketball games where his son wasn’t even a player. But he had “been at the school ALL THE TIME” and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and didn’t care about his son and tried my damnedest to get him kicked out.

The bulk of my body oozed out of my brain and splattered on the floor as I screamed inside my head YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW ME. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I DO AND SACRIFICE AND WANT FOR THESE KIDS.

This is what I wanted to say. Wanting is sometimes a terrible thing. Wanting and not getting and wanting and foundering around in a total collapse of effort is devastating.

I yelled back and eventually hung up on him. Normally, I might feel vindicated that I said what I wanted to say when I wanted to say it. Like in the movie You’ve Got Mail when Tom Hanks’ character says:

“Have you ever become the worst version of yourself. That a pandora’s box of all the hateful things, your spite, your arrogance, your condecension has sprung open? Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and walking away… you zing them. “Hello it’s Mr Nasty”. I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about… “

Then, remember? When later on Meg Ryan’s character actually tells him off and she is crestfallen over it?

That’s how I felt. Crestfallen. Despondent. Forlorn.

Mr. Nasty doesn’t apologize for what he says. Neither would I, but I would change, if I could, my inclination to puke it out the way that I did. The aftertaste is a sonofabitch.

Best I can hope for is to do better next time. Be flawed, but be better at the next opportunity.