It may just be me being hormonal or maybe it’s because I’ve eaten fast food 3 times this week, but today I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. There were some really great things that happened, and there were some super stressful things that made me want to scream and curl up into fetal position for a few days. Most days I’m pretty flexible with the way that Latinos change their plans at a moment’s notice. I just roll with the punches, but today the punches knocked me off my feet.
For my 5th grade class and my 9th grade Bible class, I have had my units all planned out for the last 6 weeks. I planned to wrap everything up this week since finals are the next week. But my week is being whittled away! Today my schedule changed HOURLY! The kids kept asking me what subject we were doing next and I would tell them, “I planned to do such and such, but it depends on who walks in the door during the next 40 minutes!” The demands on my flexibility were pushing me to my breaking point.
So another thing that was running in the background of my mind was the fact that I was on the schedule to lead the teachers’ devotional tomorrow morning. I have long since quit going to that Thursday morning obligation because it’s just too much to ask me to get 5 people out the door and on the campus before 7am. It’s just too much. But I was ready to teach and braced for the effort of herding my people out the door early. The devo was supposed to be during a special breakfast time to close out the year with the teachers. Right on the schedule it said “desayuno compartido” (shared breakfast) next to my name, so I assumed that I would be sharing my devotional while we are sharing breakfast together.
Mid way through the morning the principal approached me with the devotional schedule in her hand. “I just wanted to check that you saw this.” She said, pointing to my name on the sheet.
“Yes,” I said, “I’m ready.” I was confused that the expression on her face was not one of relief. She arched her eyebrows and puckered her lips into a tense smile. Uh-oh, something’s not right.
“So you are prepared? I was concerned because you didn’t mention anything yesterday in our meeting (which was another stressor from the day before).”
“Yes, I’m ready to share a devotional.”
“You see that it says ‘shared breakfast’ next to your name?”
“Yes, I will share the devotional while we have our breakfast.” Her expression of worry had not changed yet. I felt like I was missing something. Even though I was understanding her words completely, I was missing some hidden meaning. I prodded, “We ARE eating together, right?”
“Oh yes, do you need any help with that?”
“Do you need me to bring anything?” she asked me. Now I was totally confused.
“Ummm, If you want to, I suppose that’s fine. What were you thinking?”
She informed me that normally they do a full Costa Rican style breakfast with beans and rice, fruit drinks, and eggs. Then a sinking feeling settled into my stomach. I asked point-blank, “Am I supposed to make breakfast for everyone?”
“YES! That’s why it says ‘shared breakfast’ next to your name!”
“OMG! I didn’t know that! I thought I was sharing a devotional while we ate a breakfast that the school provided for us!” In my mind I continued: You mean I’m supposed to cook AND teach BEFORE I teach all day long and then go home to make dinner for 25 people on the missions team that we are also hosting at this time? Shall I kill you now or AFTER breakfast? “OK, well since I obviously didn’t understand that, I’m only going to bring a box of donuts and maybe someone can help make coffee too. How’s that?” I felt I was being generous. Her lips pursed again. “Or… maybe we could put a sign up list in the office and see if other people will bring stuff too.” Hmmm…
I finally just apologized for not understanding and informed her that I can’t possibly provide breakfast. I felt the angry, frustrated tears burning in my eyes and my throat constricted as I forced myself not to cry. This was my last straw… for that hour. More straws were coming, falling on me like rain.
An hour later the school secretary sheepishly came to my classroom and said, “I heard what [the principal] said to you. Um, I am going this afternoon to buy the food for the breakfast. I ALWAYS do this. You were never expected to make the breakfast. Did you think you were going to have to pay for this on your own? Oh no, I have money from the school for this. I will take care of all of it. Just don’t forget that you have to do the devotional.” Believe me, I was NOT going to forget THAT!
I can’t remember the last time I felt so much relief. However this was a cultural thing. The principal would never admit to my face that she had been wrong- totally flat-out wrong. No, and neither would the secretary admit that the principal was wrong. I didn’t get an apology for the hour of heart palpitations that I suffered. I just privately savored my relief.
Later that afternoon, I found myself standing in a space no bigger than 5 feet square shoulder to shoulder with 13 other people and only 4 chairs. I was in the waiting room at my son’s orthodontist’s office. The air in our cubicle was stale, pre-breathed air. Everyone was trying not to make eye contact with each other, and trying to wait patiently. Because my children and I were the last ones to arrive, I knew that even through we had a 4:30 appointment, there were 13 other people ahead of us who were also waiting on appointments long passed.
We waited 10 minutes before I decided, “Screw this! I’ve had too long of a day to sit her for another 2 hours.” My patience was shot! We left without even informing the receptionist who was hiding somewhere in the back office so she wouldn’t have to stare at a room full of long-suffering strangers. At that point I gave myself permission to say, “NO. I have been imposed upon one too many times today. I’m going home now.” We stopped at McDonalds for dinner… for the third time this week.