"Boy, this place is hard to find," I attempted, but they were having none of it.
"We saw you talking to that other teacher," said a 17-year-old girl, with all the severity of a 72-year-old schoolmarm. I held my head in shame, but the class proved just as obnoxious as I've ever been, and wouldn't let me off the hook. I was saved by the Pledge Of Allegiance, recited dutifully by not only my young critic, but several others, as below. We'll start toward the end, when they recited, verbatim:
"...with liberty, and justice for all. Please be seated."
I told myself for the hundredth time that one day I need to explain to them what the heck this means. Then I realized, growing up a native English speaker, I memorized it in kindergarten and had no idea what it meant either.
In the middle of the class, one of my students made a really irritating squeaking noise with his foot against the floor. I knew exactly who did it, gave him the look, and rather than be intimidated as I'd hoped, he smiled and said, "Hey, mister. It's a beautiful day today. Just look outside."
And I got a thank you card from a very new arrival, for exactly what I have no idea. But little things mean a lot. Even as the press bashes us, politicians from Barack Obama all the way down to our tinhorn tone-deaf mayor baselessly attack us, advancing unproven hurtful nonsense, the kids still appreciate us, in their way. And not one of these self-appointed experts will ever remotely understand that really, we do this for them. That really, we do not fold out newspapers and sit on our asses all day. Maybe that's what they envision as a nice job.
Because their motivations are completely different from ours and despite their much-ballyhooed crocodile tears, they don't care even a little bit about the students we serve every day of our lives.