I am a pretty damn patient person. Patient to a fault but once the line is crossed, watch out. I have a someone I call my inner chola; you don't want to meet her. She scares people. As B has said to me, "When you're angry, no shoulder is colder than your cold shoulder."
Last night inner chola came out with a fury and I was somewhat remorseful. But then I had a conversation that made me feel better.
The creative writing class I'm teaching is getting bigger every week. The teens seem to really love it. But, get a room full of teenagers together and there is bound to be drama and/or tension. Last night things came to a head. I had a female student who was reading aloud a very personal piece about her mother abandoning her. Another student snickered in the middle of the piece. The student who was reading stopped and told her to shut the fuck up, that she was disrespecting her. The sister of the snickering student lost her shit and jumped up and started shouting at the girl whose piece had been interrupted. They screamed at each other for a few minutes then the girl to my right leapt up and said she was going to beat the crap out of the reader, she lunged over the table.
Oh hell no. Not on my watch.
I bellowed. And I can bellow. I don't exactly remember what I said but I know I used the language of drunken sailors on leave. I told them in no uncertain terms that I was sick of their bullshit. I told them I was sick of watching young women compete against each other, that when women compete against each other it blinds them to the shit going on around them that is truly important and allows them to be taken advantage of by men and society. I told them they were disrespecting me and every other student in the classroom and if they continued I would walk out and never come back. I told them they had enough against them in the world and our classroom was a place of unity and family.
My yelling shut them up. By the time I finished they were both crying. A couple of my other students were crying too, I scared them. I didn't feel bad about yelling at the fighting girls but I felt horrible about letting the other students see me lose my shit. I apologized by the tension was thick. After class I apologized to the program director and called my executive director at the non-profit and apologized to him, explaining what had happened.
I was pacing in my bones after. I needed solitude and a drink. I went to the local restaurant I love to hang out at, ordered a glass of wine and was happy to see someone I knew at the bar, a Chicano muralist I've known for years. He teaches art and is a cool, cool man. He asked what was bugging me and I told him my story, feeling shameful. He laughed. And laughed then patted me on the back, telling me I did exactly what I needed. That the things I said would stick with them, maybe not immediately but down the line they would make sense to the kids.
Anyway. I feel okay about it this morning. Not great but okay.