I’m the only teacher wearing a mask this year at synagogue school, so far. And I know that part of the reason I chose to keep wearing it is because I’m self-consciousness about my teeth, post-surgery, but mostly it’s because I wear a mask to go to the supermarket, and the doctor, and the dentist, and the drug store, and it seems odd to take the mask off just when I’m faced with a room full of children. I don’t want to get sick, and even more important, I don’t want to get Mom sick, especially after the breathing issues she’s been having this summer.
I have even less energy than I had when school ended last spring, but I’m hoping that that’s a temporary result of the oral surgery, just like the numbness and tingling on the right side of my face, and that I’ll start feeling better soon. I don’t think my exhaustion shows in the classroom, though, because I tend to go into performance mode, spending two hours making weird noises (we all pretended to be shofars on day one!), and acting things out, and making funny faces (which probably go unnoticed under the mask, now that I think about it). I definitely feel the pain later, but in the moment, when the adrenaline takes over, I feel like I can do pretty much anything.
The rest of the time, my mind is still full of noise: worrying about my health, and Mom’s; worrying that I’m a terrible teacher/friend/daughter/human; worrying that I will always be in debt, and always be disabled, and always be worried.
Mom has been feeling better, thank God, but now she’s so busy that when I want to whine about one thing or another I have to wait until she’s done with her physical therapy/board meeting/photography exhibit/quilting meeting just to get a word in. Harrumph.
But, really, it was so exciting to meet my new students! And I have so many ideas for how to teach things more clearly this year, and to add more music and fun and creativity to my classroom. I’ve learned so much from my fellow teachers, and from the kids and the teenage teacher’s aides, and I hope I’ll be a better teacher this year as a result. But no matter how much I plan ahead, as soon as class starts I feel like I’ve been shot out of a cannon, and my feet don’t touch the ground until I leave the building and take off my mask. That’s when my brain kicks back in and I start to remember all the things I meant to do, and all of the things I actually did, and my head starts to spin and the pain and exhaustion start to seep in, and I feel lucky to make it home safely before I can’t stand up straight anymore. But even then, sitting on the couch for hours trying to recover, incapable of doing anything else, I still love my job.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.
Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?