I teach students with a variety of emotional disturbances, psychiatric diagnosis, and traumatic histories. Most days I love my job. All false modesty aside, I am pretty good at it.
A part of my journey, as a special educator, has been to navigate the distance I ought to keep between myself and my kids. This is partially about the specific student. It is also about where I am at a given point in my life. And it is also about deeper-running, more consistent aspects of my own personality.
I try and be nice. I can usually mantain respectfullness. But I tend toward not being particularly close and intimate with the kids. I have been at my best when I have been partenered with aides or co-teachers that tend toward a little more close, a little more affectionate, a little more nurturing with the kids.
These professionals have been a good balance for me. I hope that my colleauges would say the same thing: that we balance each other well. It is much more complex than good cop/bad cop. But in a radically over simplified way, sometimes, I am the bad cop. Or at least, the neutral one.
And I think this is really good for the kids. I thnk that they feel safe and comforted by the idea that I am who I am with the kids. They may not know their times tables. They might not care who Magellen was. They may not possess many anger management skills. But most of my kids? They have pretty highly tuned bullshit detectors. The know when somebody is just imitating somebody else.
I am reading this amazing book. It is called The Solace of Fierce Landscapes. There is this section where the author writes about how we want a sort-of distance from God. Their is grace in his failure to be too close.
I am repulsed and attracted by this. I guess maybe because it is deeply true and also very much untrue. We want a God who cries our tears with us. I believe in a God who does.
And yet… One of the things I know is that when I am distant from my kids, they draw some comfort from this. When they are in the middle of overwhelming emotions, they need somebody who is not wrapped in the highs and lows. The number of kids who end up in residential care because the overly sympathetic parents ride their roller coasters is huge.
And here is the thing: I am not so different from my students. I can be an ignorant knucklehead. I want a God who cries with me. But I also want a God who speaks to Elijah in the silence, who justifies himself to Job by not justifying himself.
I guess the amazing thing about omniscience is that God’s complexities can transcend my little categories.