Sometimes the pressure really is too much. Human psyches, like the bodies that house them, can only take so much before they start doing...things. You know, "stuff." I'm not talking about daydreaming or a fit of the giggles, either. Those are 'normal' responses to being tired or overstimulated or just, plain human. I'm talking about a dulling of the senses. Like, the ability to sleep next to a freight train or with a crying infant or through the honking of an alarm clock. Also, a dulling of feelings and emotions. Suddenly you don't know how you feel or how things are. The "feelings and emotions" portion of your brain has been stripped so completely that you look at anyone asking you how you are or how your day is going--especially if they have any emotional uptick to their step at all--like you've been stricken dumb. You have. Not so much because you are as because the answers to questions suddenly became too tricky.
"Is your little boy sick?" Innocent question.
Technically, yes, compared to some but they're doing well at this very second, so maybe no? Which one is he asking about? I mean, really, there's a spectrum here. Technically Beanstalk is winning. Winning? Or is it losing? I don't know. We were all fine until someone asked. They're at school and have no broken bones. And now even Squib is going for the orthopedic gold. I'm relatively certain they both are walking mostly. But, I don't know that either after this past Monday. Does that mean they're good/fine/well? Forget it. Incoming nebulous answer.
"He has been, yes." Half smile. It's confusing to people because I must look like I'm very unsure of what they're expecting. Or I must look lost or devoid of a home planet. Raise antennae. Uncover pointy ears.
"Oh, well I had read on thus-and-such about this-or-that and wanted to check in on him." Oooooooh that.
"Yes he's doing better with that." Pat answer ensues. Smile like you have answered the question. Phew.
I could, if I wanted, play another conversational game of "Exactly How Bad Is It?" but really, who needs that? Even more, who wants that? Not I. You can see whole people vanish before your eyes as the story spills out before you. Health issues and concomitant financial ruin. They slowly start circling the drain and right before they go down, they ask, "How do you do it?" I simply say, "I don't." Then, they lose their grip and slide into the darkness. And that's why we don't talk about it completely. You know, the whole enchilada. "It" doesn't get better. Until gene therapy gets SO GOOD that whole extra chromosomes can be zapped and hunks (visible to the naked eye through a microscope hunks) moved and/or removed. Then there are all those body parts to...um...yeah...and brains maybe or some kinda something we....hummmm."
Oh and by the way, I can juggle money like a freaking Cirque de Soleil center ring act.
Between the money issues, health issues, unemployment...you know I can see why some of these students might be disenchanted already. Other than substituting, I was very close to getting a job--or trying--that some of them would probably steal right out from under me. Or out from over me. They'd be my boss. At the end of the day I understand completely why a parent like myself might see a note from a teacher and think, "good grief already! What on earth is so bad about talking out loud during class? He made it! Clothed! In the clean clothes! Screw it, he talked! Out loud! Hallelujah! And we slept at our own house last night, etc. etc. blah. blah. blah." It's not right, but I can see it from here.
And that dead in the eyes look? It comes from two things. Either you follow a path that robs you of your soul. OR--life wears you down. Way, way, way down.
For a child to be that far down is a tragedy. But, I'll be honest. I see a lot of tragedies around here.