I work as a junior high teacher. This morning, as I walked in, clearly hustling from the parking lot, arms full of various bags, freshly make-upped, haired, clothed in what I *thought* was a cute outfit, a mom I normally adore said to me, “You look comfy!”
Not knowing how to react to this, I simply said, “I guess so!” and marched up to my room, where I wanted to pinch every child I came in contact with.
What does that mean exactly? “Comfy” isn’t a word I use very often to describe people and their appearance.
Is that “comfy” like, “you look like you rolled out of bed and are ready to roll back in?”
Is it “comfy” like code word for “fat?”
Do I look “comfy” like a nice warm teddy bear, a round one, that you want to snuggle up with? Comfy like a big, fluffy pillow? Comfy like an overstuffed couch? Comfy like a shapeless blob of a bean bag chair?
Is it code word for “sloppy?”
Because I just got dressed. You’re looking at and labeling the BEST I’m going to look all day as “comfy.”
My makeup is on. My clothes have no coffee stains, no finger prints, no marker smears. No sweaty hands have grasped my skirt or thrown themselves around my waist. No tears, no snot, no spit up from every morning when I open my yogurt in the wrong direction and it urps on me.
I think I look like this woman below when I walk on campus.
Generally, as I’m sprinting to my classroom in the morning, I like my parents to be lined up, clapping their hands over me in one of those appreciation tunnels you do for the other soccer team, shouting at me “you look AMAZING!” “Hi!” “My kids love your class!” “Here’s a pumpkin spice latte I picked up for you!” (one can dream!)
In the mornings, I do get the occasional hug from the student, or one runs up, bursting at the seams to tell me a story about how they were watching Phineas and Ferb and saw Latin used on the show, or to offer me a donut from their birthday party.
But every once in a while, one of them will add in one of the following buzzkills:
“You look tired.”
“You look sick.”
“Are you pregnant?”
“Have you gained weight?”
“Do I have to go to your class today?”
“Can I talk to you about something for just a minute?” <—it’s never a minute, it’s always half an hour of my precious precious prep time, and I’m too nice to cut you off!
“Did you grade my test from yesterday yet?”
“Did you read my email from this morning?”
Sometimes I like to use these as teaching moments, and gently correct them, letting them know that what they’re asking isn’t really appropriate right now. Or ever in a million years.
For example, women never want to be told they look tired. Teachers especially. I already know I’m tired, and no amount of Target-bought makeup is going to cover that up, but please humor me. Likewise, women know when they are sick, and don’t need to be told. And unless a woman is telling you about her contraction cycle, play it safe and never, ever, EVER assume a woman is pregnant. And women aren’t fat. We’re the shape that we are and you’re lucky to have us.
So parents, teach your children well. Especially your sons, who will eventually want to marry one of us. And, while you’re at it, have them memorize this quote:
“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not “very tired,” he is exhausted. Don’t use “very sad,” use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.”
—Dead Poets Society
This has been another installment of “HowGirlsWork.”