Sunday, September 6, 2009

New school, old questions

Started back to school last week. It was a little freaky going back before Labor Day, but I guess the district decided it was best to have some extra emergency days to work with in the event of a major storm or flu outbreak. Opening day for teachers was September 1, and I survived the district-wide introduction. All of the new teachers were required to stand up in front of a large live audience (in addition to several other locations receiving a live broadcast) and introduce ourselves in a clever manner. I wrote a poem and managed to say it without messing up. A very proud moment indeed. Thursday the students started and all is going well thus far. I like my colleagues and it seems I will have a good group of students this year. Of course we are in the "honeymoon phase" right now; ask me how I feel come October. The biggest adjustment is teaching without walls; it is a little challenging to focus on what is going on in the immediate vicinity when you can clearly hear what is going in other people's "rooms". My former co-teacher referred to my new job as a "teacher without borders". It's wild, but I know I will get used to it soon and will barely notice the difference.
In the meantime I have been trying to meet some new people. During the days of new teacher orientation I got to know the other full-time substitute for Special Ed. in our building. We're the same age but she is newly married and does not have children yet. I showed her a picture of Paul and was (of course) bragging about his awesomeness. She didn't come right out and say anything about the fact that he is Asian, and I am beginning to wonder if she realizes he is adopted. The other day we were talking about Paul's outgoing personality and she asked, "Does he get that from you?"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Do you think his personality is more like yours or your husband's?"
"Uh, neither." Admittedly I was caught off guard and didn't have the right answer. Is there a right answer? Sometimes I struggle with how best to communicate my status as an adoptive mom to someone I am getting to know. Part of me wants to avoid tricky questions/comments that force the issue - like "Did you nurse?" or "Pregnancy changes the way your bra fits" (I actually was told this at V.S. one day... with Paul right there.) Another new teacher asked me, "Are you planning on having more?" What do I say - "Well, I didn't exactly have my first one."??? My mom would say that all of this thinking and worrying is silly and no one really cares. The problem is, I care. And I get stuck in my head about this stuff all the time. When Paul starts understanding his adoption story (right now he simply likes to repeat it), I want to be able to equip him with the best answers for inevitable questions he'll face his whole life. If I can't figure out how to answer them, how can I teach him?