in the Interim

Friends, I have to be honest and say that I’ve allowed my sewing jive to slide lately. I’ve been more than a little down about certain things in my life. If I had to lay claim to the biggest offender on that list, I would definitely say that working with middle school students has not been my cup of tea. Thing is, I only work with the “bad” kids. The other day, there was a sweet little volunteer at the school helping out in a spanish class. I was talking to her a little bit and saying that I never really get to know any of the really good kids, because I mostly deal with the bad ones. Then she said, “But they aren’t really bad are they? There’s no such thing as a bad kid.” Sad to say, but in my mind, its a very good thing this sweet young lady doesn’t work at the school.

I think the hardest thing for me, in this middle school situation, is that I feel as if I’ve been transported back to my middle school years. How in the world do kids make it everyday? With the criticism that they get from their peers, its seriously no wonder there are such problems with self-esteem and even suicide. Being an adult, I’m expected to have just “gone through that” and therefore, the insults and rude banter that are slung at me everyday, aren’t supposed to leave a mark. But I’ll tell ya plain, they do. To be frank, this whole thing has sent me into a bit of a depression – a medium-small bit. The bright bit is that school is out in 3 short weeks – though I’ll admit, that seems like an eternity away when I think of some of those rotten kids I have to face everyday.

Over the weekend, I finally got to the point where I feel that I really need to get back on board with those things that make me happy and forget about my school woes. And of course, one thing that makes me really happy is sewing!  Yay! Normally I don’t discuss personal matters here on my blog, but I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind today and bare a little of my soul and what I’ve been feeling lately. Its been a time for me to re-examine what’s really important in my life and though I wouldn’t consider sewing a wardrobe as the most important thing in life, having an outlet for creative ingenuity is. It’s also been a time to remember what some of my goals this year started out as being. I seem to recall something about finishing 3 garments per month (fail!) and I seem to be remembering something about a wrap dress.

Just trying to keep a chin up and a smile on my face. Tell me, what do you do when you get down and out?


  • theperfectnose - I’m sorry to hear the little d*ckheads are making your life miserable (yes they are d*ckheads, having been a kid myself once, and having being beaten up by said d*ckheads and not always one on one either, I’m quite qualified to judge, thanks. The worst ones are the ones that use emotional bullying rather than physical because they’re smart enough to know that if you hurt someone you’ll get in trouble but if you taunt them into hurting themselves, it’s their fault- again I’m qualified to judge because there were two suicides in my high school and one of them was definitely a result of bullying). All you can do is strengthen your boundaries, keep in mind that the things you have no control over (i.e. what other people say) are not things that you can allow inside your boundary. So it they talk crap, fine, it’s just their way of proving their parents are idiots- it has nothing to do with you. Stand tall, take it on the chin and don’t waver. Trust me, once they realise they’re wasting their breath on you, they’ll save it for someone that gives them the response they’re desperate for (i.e. tears/ anger). Best of luck.
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  • Dee - Wow, that’s a tough situation for sure. Middle school years are hard for kids. They’re trying so hard to find out who they are and to survive each other’s badness. Role model great coping skills, sew and do other things that recharge your soul, and consider what else you might like to do for a living. Keep calm and sew on!
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  • Lavender - Hey Sunni, I just want to give you a virtual hug. Maybe this isn’t the case with all creative people, people I consider “seekers”, but I know for me, it’s so easy to get down and dissatisfied. I up and changed my world, quit my job a few months to pursue something higher, and it’s rough. I’m happy, and yet being untethered a bit is scary. Yes, even depressing some weeks. Do exactly what you’re doing, turn to your heart and your goals, and keep them in your focus. They deserve your attention and nurture.

    Middle school is such a rough time for kids. It was for me… awkward, not popular, the death of my step-brother & brother-in-law just months apart, hormones. At least I had a supportive family. These kids might be facing horrible circumstances and have nowhere else to go, bad nutrition that doesn’t support their mind and mood. Hang in there. If you can give one kid a glimmer of hope, they will cherish it. Even as an adult, I tear up at the thought of a few random instances of kindness at that age, people who never knew they were affecting me. The kids who are being rude to you… that seems like the most difficult aspect. But just try to lead through example. Is it possible/allowed to be frank with them by saying “your words are hurtful and adding no value to the classroom”, with clear rules or consequences (exiting the lesson, etc) ?
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  • Tanit-Isis - Aww, hugs! (a bit late, not sure how I missed this one…) I have a middle-schooler, and I heartily sympathize. As I say (more often than I probably should), I didn’t like twelve-year-olds when I *was* one…

    Does it help to remember how small and limited their perspectives are? They don’t even know how small their worlds are. The things they say aren’t a reflection on you, they’re a reflection of the limited perspective these kids have—they don’t know what cool is, what nice is, what makes for a good life vs. a miserable one. A lot of them are probably miserable themselves and trying to lessen that pain in the worst possible way, by spreading it around.

    My middle-schooler is also counting down until the end of the year—which is sad because it had been a really good year until Easter, when their teacher went on maternity leave and they got a replacement. Since then, she’s been miserable, and I can’t tell how much is just sulking, how much is genuine problems with the teacher, and how much is other kids acting out because they don’t like the new teacher. It’s a really awkward, unpleasant situation.
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  • seeks - There is such a thing as burn-out, Sunni, and middle-school work with “bad kids” can really take its toll. I work in the human services field, so I watch it burn-out happen to the best of us, and I still consider myself lucky that I don’t have to teach. I would collapse into a heap of sadness within the first semester! However, Oona brings up a wonderful point that it’s people like you who help make a world of difference to these kids. Even if it doesn’t seem so now, you may find that you had an impact you’d never imagine years from now. I believe you are on the right track: always take care of yourself. Otherwise, you run the risk of becoming unable to see the wonder in the world that carries you through.
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  • Sewing for Citizen Schools v.2 « threadsquare - [...] week. And I feel a little bad, like I should dampen my excitement a bit, because I know it’s not easy. I almost wish I hadn’t read that post this morning, and my post is in no way meant to [...]ReplyCancel

  • the Button Up Refashion Swap - [...] Friends, here it is! If you follow me on Facebook – which you should – this is the project I posted a little while ago. And this is also the project that I was talking about with my thoughts on refashioning. I’ll admit, I’m a little hooked on refashioning now. Can’t say that I’m really good at it, but I can see the value and sometimes the project can be really easy, like this one I’m about to show you how to do, and it can give you a little boost in your sewing if you need one. And as you know, I’ve needed one. [...]ReplyCancel

  • Alicia C. - Oh, my! I’m sorry to read that you’re having such a difficult time. I understand how working in an environment filled with so much negativity can zap your creative mojo. (Been there, done that. In therapy because of it.) To have that negativity directed at you has to be even worse. I would encourage you not to think of the kids as “bad”, but rather as “struggling”. They almost certainly have personal issues that you’re not the slightest bit privvy to and have not yet learned how to properly direct their energy and anger. (Sadly, some of them may never.) However, they need the positive, passionate, inspiring person you are on this blog! I sincerely hope you can find a way to muddle through or even turn the situation around the tiniest bit in these next few weeks. I can’t wait to read more of your sewing adventures!ReplyCancel

  • Sigrid - I don’t think those middle school feeling ever go away, and kids that age might be “good” when they are alone, but as a tribe, they can be quite cruel. Even as a parent, I re-live my school fears when i step into a school. So hang in there and be easy on yourself!
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  • Mary - Sunni, I taught junior high for most of my 30 year career…the kids are difficult and self centered normally. Add in poverty, family issues, sexuality etc—>lots of acting out. If you want to talk more, just email me: carroll61354 at charter dot net

    Teaching is a wonderfully fulfilling career and one of the most misunderstood jobs. It’s very complicated and difficult, but oh, so fun when it works.

    HTH, Mary
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  • Rowsella - Hi, just felt compelled to send you some support after reading your post. I work as a nurse in a hospital so I know all about burn-out, been there myself a few years ago and had to take some time off. Do you work a summertime gig? If it is something you like to do, look at trying your hand at a different age group in a fun setting. Middle school is kind of intense. My son is now in college and I remember that time as being very difficult for him. He did have great resource teachers that he does like to go back and visit. Now he went to a suburban school that I guess were “good kids” etc. so I think it is a hard age regardless. Maybe this is not the environment for you. It is very hard to be a teacher today. The pay is low and expectations very high. You are battling with the student (and sometimes their family) to help the student. I commend your pluck in choosing this career and I hope you find your niche. Find some ways to defuse the anxiety and stress. (ha ha, listen to me….)ReplyCancel

  • Spin - You need a new job, or at least a different position where you aren’t working with just the bad kids. To spend so many hours of a day with people who drain the life out of you is a waste–especially since you are so talented and happy with other things in your life (like sewing). I feel your pain. I had a crap job and I felt like I unbuttoned my pants after Thanksgiving dinner the day they laid me off. I started a business doing what I really love. My hubby also has a crap job working with bad kids at juvy. The kids would say things just to get under his skin and as hard as he tried not to let it get to him, it did. He still works there, but he works the night shift when the little bastards are sleeping. So I hope you find a solution to your middle school problem. When I was in middle school, I noticed I had never seen so many kids end up in juvenile hall and eventually the correctional high school in town. It was where the punks were still mixing in with the regular kids. Maybe move up to high school or move down to elementary? Good luck…ReplyCancel