god loves alligators.

i teach elementary special education.
and even though i love my job, i often hate when people ask me what i do..
not because of anything i think about my job.. but the way that people react to it.

i have been thinking about these comments that i get for awhile.. beings how i always am hearing them.. but today was the kicker that got the reactions rolling.

while at staples, the cashier is trying to get me to sign up for some rewards program.. alright, whatever. there is a teacher program that i tell her she can sign me up for.
“oh you teach?”
yep.
“where at?”
colfax-mingo elementary.
“what grade?”
actually elementary special education.. so k-5.
(all normal questions.. i assume the conversation will end here.)
“OH! HOW WONDERFUL!! SPECIAL ED KIDS ARE SO SWEET!!”
yeah, most kids are pretty good kids.
(clearly that is the pre-requisit for special ed.. the kids have to just be sweet..)

*brace yourself for her next response..
“i mean i almost got attacked by one one time.. but thats okay, because he just hadn’t taken his medicine. haha!”
hmm… i almost got attacked by an alligator once.
(i grinned at her with the same stupid look she gave me 10 seconds before and laughed as the smile slowly left her face.. hahaha!)

now, today’s conversation was a little different the normal.. usually this is what i get:

“oh wow! good for you.”
yeah.. good for me. i am working with kids who often hate school and i am getting paid a whopping 25,000 dollars a year to some how magically make them love the power of knowledge.

“there is no way i could do what you do.. wow”
really? well.. the compliment is right back at you.. i could never sit in a cubical all day staring at a computer screen figuring out how to genetically modify corn, or sell clothing to size 0 anarexoric angsty teens, or wait tables to crabby customers, or clean the teeth of people who have forgotten to brush/floss/use mouth wash in the past week or two…
in fact, there really are a lot of jobs that i could never do.. it just happens to be that teaching is the one i was chosen for.

“ohhh.. that really takes a really special person..”
you think? I THINK that it takes a special person to shave the callouses off my feet, rub my unshaven legs, clean under my toenails, and smile while she paints my toenails thinking about having to do it all over again. special person is on the checklist of personality traits of a pedicurist..

“you must have some incredible patience..”
you don’t think it takes patience to do other jobs? it would take me some serious patience to deal with the mother computer…

“wow! there is a special place for you..” (this one is often followed by a very God-loving, christian wink)
yeah.. im pulling for the right hand seat. just me and the big man.. judging people, creating natural disasters, defying the rules of gravity… thats the ultimate goal of serving as a special education teacher.

and while the comments are meant to be nice.. i know. (i apparently am a little cynical at times.)
i appreciate that people respect my work as a special education teacher. but, just keep it in perspective.. don’t forget about the respect for other jobs as well.
but sometimes the compliments can just be a little overwhelming.. and maybe thats just it i guess. maybe i just dont take the compliments well..
but honestly, my job really doesn’t take the pope to acomplish.
it just takes an alligator trainer..

now that job takes a really special person. (wink, wink..)

8 thoughts on “god loves alligators.

  1. That is by far one of the best articles I’ve ever read.

    A++!! Would read again!!!!1

  2. Kari, do you have a cold? just kidding. My mom teaches special ed K-6 so i caan relate, only she has a master degree so the questions and responses people give her are out of this world. I just crack up when i am next to her and she responds to the people by talking to them like her elementery shcool kids. Then to top it all of she winks at me and walks awway. So funny.

  3. not sure what a masters degree has to do with that. i’m pretty sure a special ed teacher is a special ed teacher – regardless of education.

    although in a few months maybe kari’s stories will be out of this world too.

  4. “pulling for the right hand seat”… oh man. Kari, I love you. Although, if God ever does put you in charge, I’m going to crap all over inside my pants.

  5. KARI! This blog is awesome! And of course reading it, I can just HEAR you saying all of it! I think my fav line is “I apparently am a little cynical at times”…hmm…you???? no….:)
    Hope all is well! Say hi to Derek for me. Love & miss – Autumn

  6. Ha! People used to say some of the same things when I said I taught MIDDLE SCHOOL. Well, not the “they’re so sweet” part, of course, but the “wow, I could never…you must be so special, so patient…” It’s not true, and it gets old. Your responses are perfect.

  7. Wow, I don’t know what to agree with first. But it’s true that every job requires a special type of person to do it well and with any zeal, and I’m always amazed to see people doing jobs that I know (from experience!) would drive me to murder in less than a semester.
    So when the happy smiley waitress tells me she’d never be able to handle my life,with its crippley implications, I think “yeah, same to you, you miraculous being.” Anyone who does a job for satisfaction instead of just money deserves respect and congratulations, too. Good for you, turning that compliment back at all of them. And I hope you say it aloud.

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