Feb. 13th, 2012

applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([art] i'm not sorry)
Valentine’s Day means a full eight hours of heartbreak, tears, and crushing disappointment.

Oh, not for me. Even worse – for my students.

It’s one of the hazards of being a high school teacher that on Valentine’s Day I have to deal with about 10% of my students carrying around an enormous cache of “romantic” gifts (using the teenaged definition of “romantic,” which is startlingly opposed to the usual adult use of the term) – cheap teddy bears, roses that are soon crushed by obsessive handling, and those fucking mylar balloons – while the rest look on in either annoyance or jealousy. If it were only the looking I could deal, but as my students are completely incapable of keeping what’s inside their heads out of their mouths, I get a bitter running commentary throughout all five periods of the day. By the time I get home I could definitely do with a romantic dinner and a sensual massage of my own, but unfortunately for me my boyfriend is in another city for school during the week... so I’m stuck with Diet Cherry 7Up, a grilled cheese sandwich, and reruns of Criminal Minds.

This is my third year of teaching. By now, I expect certain things on Valentine’s Day.

1. Somebody will get dumped.
There are many cruel people in this world and most of them are teenaged boys. For whatever reason, these douchebags-in-training can think of no better way to stick it to the poor girl that foolishly agreed to date them than to dump her on Valentine’s Day. She comes to school buoyed up by the expectation of a crappy Wal-Mart teddy bear only to have her hopes and dreams crushed by the unwashed asshole she thought she loved – poor thing.

The best-case scenario (for me) is if there are only tears and excessive texting to the boy in question. This is annoying but can be dealt with. The worst-case scenario is, well...

2. Somebody got cheated on.
It sucks enough to be a teenaged girl* dumped on Valentine’s Day, a holiday almost certainly designed for teenaged girls. It sucks twice as hard if you got dumped for the side piece. All of a sudden she’s carting around your half-wilted roses and wearing your boyfriend’s enormous filthy hoodie. It’s too much to bear!

When this happens, the girl usually can’t handle the strain on her own. There are the usual tears and texting, but she will also want to “take a break” out in the hallway while her best friend reassures her. This is bad enough if her best friend is already in my class, but usually she isn’t and will show up unannounced in the middle of the period like some kind of skinny-bejeaned fairy godmother summoned by the power of friendship. This will completely disrupt my class, naturally.

Bonus points if either the dumpee or the side piece are pregnant – that always adds an extra layer to this tiramisu of awfulness.

*Don’t think that boys get out of this completely scot-free. While I have the girlfriends, my school is helplessly overcrowded so I probably have the boyfriends, too. So I get to deal with this from both sides of the coin – lucky me. And there are plenty of cold-hearted teenaged girls out there as well, ready to dump their boyfriends on this most sacred of high school holidays with the best of the bastard boys. If anything, a broken-hearted boy is even harder to deal with than a broken-hearted girl, as they are about 50% more likely to be irrationally angry along with the crying and texting. There’s nothing quite like bearing the brunt of a boy’s melodramatic emotional outburst only to have him expect for all to be cool once he tells you he’s “just dealing with some stuff.”*

But as we are all aware, most of us having been there at least once in our lives, not everyone has a significant other to dump them on Valentine’s Day. This leads me to the last V-Day expectation....

3. Somebody’s gonna be single.
This is possibly the saddest group of all. At least the others got to enjoy having a boy- or girlfriend for awhile, even if they had to be cruelly cut loose in the end. The perpetually singles never even had the faint hope of getting a bear or a balloon – they knew that the day would only bring disappointment.

There are several different shades of this particular individual, ranging from mostly apathetic (or at least pretending to be) to out-and-out rageaholic. I consider it a boon if I only have to hear about “Single’s Awareness Day” or some light bashing of the Valentine encumbered once or twice per class period. Sometimes, though, you get someone who just can’t let up, and that is no fun at all. The most disheartening bit is the secondhand embarrassment you feel for these types, as they could not make it more obvious (despite constant demands to the contrary) that they reallyreally wanted to be someone’s Valentine and are desperately disappointed that no spontaneous confessions of love were made and cheesy gifts given. It's sad but understandable, as again - who hasn't been there?

At any rate, by the time the day is done I am more than ready to go home. Riding the rollercoaster of teenage emotions is difficult even on the most innocuous of days, but Valentine’s Day is a minefield of FEELINGS that run the gamut from ebullient to gut-stabbing, and it is more than a little exhausting for those of us who like to think we’ve moved to bigger and better.

But I’m still going to get those flowers in the mail, right?

Right?



Happy Valentine's Day!

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