my life this week
Today marked the fifth day I have been out on strike. Although I have been part of a union for 12 years, and have returned a strong strike mandate many times, I was so used to productive negotiation that I never imagined myself in this position. When we were told last week to prepare our rooms for the possibility that we wouldn’t be returning, I thought it was ridiculous, but I moved out my plants and cleaned up my desk just the same. On Friday, I told my students that I would see them on Monday. And even when we went out on Monday, I refused to make plans later than Tuesday, sure that we would be back to work in days.
I think I imagined that, when we went on strike, an alarm would go off. A klaxon would sound, sending board negotiators into a tizzy. Phones would ring off the hook with angry parents and provincial politicians would scramble to save the rest of the year.
It looks like I grossly overestimated the concern of the Board and the Province for the education of our teens. There has not been any reaching out to us. There has not been any indication that they even noticed that the high schools in the second-largest school board in Ontario are empty. So much for an educated populace. So much for a commitment to parents.
That being said, it has been a pretty special week. I have had intimate, intricate and unhurried conversations with co-workers while we walked in slow loops with our posters and flags. I have shared food and blankets and sunscreen and music and smiles with everyone, mostly people I don’t get to see very often because we all work too hard in the normal run of things. I have discussed kids, parents, running, food, philosophy, anxiety and how long we can go without taking a bathroom break. I never wear earbuds, I never knit, I stopped keeping my phone with me after the second day, and I Am Never Bored. There is simply no place for festering resentments on the line. Bullshit can’t hide behind classroom doors and pass along in furtive hallway conversations.
Today my shift protested in front of the provincial rep’s office, along with four other schools. I saw some excellent people I used to work with at Hogsboro High, as well as dozens of Bat Masterson alumni who have dispersed to pollinate other schools. There were new conversations today, new opportunities to catch up, and fresh sympathy for the wounds of the year. It was very very good, but I am very very ready for the weekend.
Two years ago.
“did we win the protest?” – blake
I won’t get any rest, though, because this weekend is TCAF! Mason & I got an early event in yesterday, as Geoff Berner wrote a comic book (kind of by accident) and it was launched with a small concert. He did his magic thing where he gets everyone to sing along, drunk or sober, and we left feeling that, if the world were truly going to shit, at least we could sing as it tumbled.
And, of course, Mother’s Day is coming.
It’s not a big deal in my house, but it reminds me to notice all of the tiny things my kids do for which I am grateful. I went into town to pick up Sage tonight, and he has, in the short time we’ve been together, made several remarks that can only be construed as gifts:
(In reference to a past conversation when I helped talk him through some major anxieties), “Meema, how do you always know what to say?”
(After I explained why the comic book in his hand was “his comic book” even if he didn’t own it), “Meema, I like the way you think.”
I hope Maggie is taking notes.