There are many things in my life that I question myself about. I go through the world, probably 68% of the time, pretty much just wingin’ it and hoping the way I think stuff will go in my head is actually how it’s going to translate into real life. As a normal human being who is completely and disappointingly lacking in superhero-esque or TV character-like powers of foresight, I don’t know that when I make a decision that it’s going to bear itself out as the correct one. My inclinations, sadly, can be incorrect and go decidedly awry.
And then there are things that I one hundred percent for sure know are true.
Two of these things came to my attention rather forcefully today. The first involves college. I can remember like it was yesterday my freshman year of college; arriving at school all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, on the verge of turning EIGHTEEN and pretty much being sure that I was a responsible, mature woman now who just had her life totally together.
It pains me now to think of that degree of intense, pathetic, sweet naivete. I thought I knew things when I started college; now I’m convinced college’s main lesson is to teach you that you don’t know anything. One of my classes where I feel the sting of this lesson keenly is in Dr. Crow’s Political Geography of the Modern World, every Tuesday and Thursday from 12 to 1:25pm. Dr. Crow is completely insane, and naturally one of the most beloved teachers on campus, including by me. You just honestly never know what’s going to come out of his mouth. From a man I am paying to teach me things, this is a quality I can respect; I like the surprising relevance and/or usefulness of whatever he’s telling us. What I do not like about that class is that I arrive to it early. I get out of my first class at 11ish on Tuesday and Thursday; I eat lunch, and since it does not take me an hour to do it, I usually just stroll on over to class around fifteen minutes early.
Now, my college is a liberal arts college. We attract, how should I put this, interesting people. But hey, to each their own and all that, I tend to enjoy that diversity. And then, there are the times when I am subjected to soliloquies by kids in trench coats and round polarized glasses over the major mistakes Hitler made that caused his defeat. He actually stood up from his seat at the front of the class and gave a little mini-lecture to the approximately four of us that were there early. This guy’s voice was admiring of Hitler, I kid you not, and he sounded almost disappointed in the man, like he couldn’t quite believe someone whose mental acumen he so admired could’ve made such fatal mistakes. Another legacy I’ve taken from college is a much deeper and even more horrifying understanding of the Holocaust, so I can’t exactly say that I was feeling too receptive to his tone. But it wasn’t just a sense of disappointment in Hitler that I felt a touch annoyed by; the kid was clearly just trying to show off his extensive World War II knowledge and prove that he was smarter than Hitler and never would’ve made such silly mistakes. I was most appreciative when one of the other people being subjected to this interrupted to say bluntly, “It’s easy to say that in hindsight.” The kid seemed completely stymied by this brilliant logic, and thankfully Dr. Crow came in almost immediately after so I didn’t really have to hear what he would’ve countered with. That was last week.
Today, Dr. Crow was on an especially crazy roll (we touched on mass serial killers at parent teacher conferences all the way to how the world was going to turn into the plot of Mad Max), but he was saying some important and viable stuff. Of course, there’s the kid who sits in the corner who generally has an obnoxious comment to chime in with once or twice during class (there’s ALWAYS one), but he too was on a roll today. There seemed to be almost the shimmer of a heat wave in the corner he sits in today from the heat of the hostile stares directed at him. At one point during the class, he somehow managed to mention how he was a freshman taking an upper level class, and I actually said out loud to the girl in front of me, “Oh, of course he’s a freshman.”
So this is the first thing I realized today. The way you know for certain it’s time for you to graduate college is when you start disdainfully and grumpily talking smack under your breath about the stupid people in your class and tossing the word “freshman” around like a slur, and you subsequently feel triumphant when your assessment of them is proved right. Hitler guy is also a freshman, you might be shocked to hear. It makes me feel like some crotchety old woman who just wants to crush all that determined but often misguided confidence that seems to linger, aura-like, around underclassmen. It’s not fair, really, because there are some upperclassmen that I should probably never be left alone with, and there are equally delightful underclassmen. But as a senior in college, I know that I actually don’t know anything, and I just want to yell out my bitter disillusionment in the form of sayings like “You’re an idiot” and “You don’t know anything.”
This actually makes college sound very pointless and disheartening, and I didn’t have that intent at all. College is lovely; it’s very freeing realizing I don’t really know much. I mean, it’s a huge responsibility to have all the answers; now, as I’m about to graduate college, I have the whole world to go into and figure things out. So, shameless endorsement of the day, go to college because education is the bulwark of civilization, and if Dr. Crow is to be believed we need to really work on keeping up the whole civilization thing so Mel Gibson doesn’t end up the leader(?) of the world (I’ve never actually seen Mad Max).
And education leads me into my second realization of the day. As many students must, I had to get a job while I was in high school and continue it into college. Aside from approximately two years overall working in restaurants (an experience that will convince you, if nothing else, that getting an education is worth it), I have spent the majority of my laboring years working at daycares. For many people this is a horrifying prospect, but I love kids and actually enjoy (usually) my job. I’ve been working in daycare going on four years now, and it’s one of the things I’m most grateful for. Honestly, I don’t know if there’s anything else in my life that has matured me as quickly as being responsible for numerous, small, astonishingly foolish lives (it’s almost reminiscent of how I feel around some freshmen). You get it together pretty quick if you want to be a successful daycare worker. Now, one of my responsibilities at various instances through out my daycare career has been to monitor kids while they play on the playground. For instance, playgrounds tend to be accompanied by slides. One of my greatest fights as a teacher is to make sure children go down a slide properly. If you’ve never worked with kids, this seems rather silly, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s pretty simple. You walk up the stairs, you go down the slide. Ah, but if you think this, you have clearly never worked with children.
Because kids seem to love nothing better than to climb up the slide and even, at times, to try and slide down stairs. I don’t understand it, but it is undeniable. It happens constantly. Unfortunately for me, this is, for some reason, one of my greatest pet peeves. Perhaps it’s because the function of a slide should be so incredibly simple: up stairs, down slide. And yet, no matter how many times you get onto them, they will do it WRONG over and over and over again. It makes me slightly crazy.
So, my great second realization of the day? I was taking a nap, as I do whenever humanly possible, and I actually had a nightmare (yes, a nightmare, as in I was horrified and upset during and felt very stressed out when I woke up) about a giant play structure, absolutely FILLED with slides, and all of the kids were going the wrong way on all of them. I was supposed to be monitoring this, but the kids just ignored me, and even said mean things, and I was powerless to stop them. When I woke up, I realized that I have been working in daycare for far, far too long.
These two realizations actually lead me to a third, almost overarching epiphany of the day: I may not have any idea what I’m going out into the world to do, I may be just blindly hoping that the plans I make for my future will somehow come out right, I may be shortly wingin’ it 100%.
But what I do know, for sure, is that it’s probably time for me to be done with college.
PS Okay, so I feel stupid now because I said last time that I was going to say goodbye in Kenyan, but that’s not even a language. As the Google taught my ignorant self, the national languages of Kenya are English and Swahili. My closing for today is the Swahili word for goodbye.