When things get really bad

So yesterday I was eating lunch with my friends in the teacher’s lounge (a place notorious for its negativity, but we’re usually laughing) and everyone was in a lousy mood. If one person griped about girls wearing skanky clothes, another griped about freak dancing. If one person talked about helicopter parents, another yelled about stupid questions.
Now usually I’m the one people turn to for a positive spin on things. I mean seriously, as far as I’m concerned the majority of teenagers are awesome. They’re smarter today than they used to be when I was one, they’re far more aware of their world and they’re generally pretty decent human beings. It drives my friends crazy that I say stuff like this when they’re griping. And sometimes I do it on purpose just to aggravate them. But I always smile when I do it.
But yesterday was different. Yesterday I decided to try a new tactic on my war against negativity.
When the griping had finally died down to a dull roar I took one last bite of soup then shared how I’d turned the TV on last weekend, heard that 32,000 people had died in an earthquake and thought, Big deal. Then when I saw the news about New Hampshire, same thing. But when I learned that Bird Flu was in Romania, I finally paid attention.
Everyone looked at me. The room was completely silent. Until one of my friends said,
Bird Who?
Me-Bird Flu.
Her-Bird who?
Me-not who, what.
Her-Where?
(At this point I thought she was kidding)
Me-where what?
Her-Where’d the bird fly?
The room roared. Finally another friend explained Bird FLU not flew.

Now honestly, that should’ve fixed the griping for good. And okay, to be honest it had. Except I decided I hadn’t shared enough negativity with my buddies.
One of my friends, still wiping tears from her face, looked at me shaking her head, disbelief that PollyAnna Mary Beth had just let loose.
I shrugged and imparted the best news of the day.
Because honestly, I said, the next time a kid gets smart mouthed in class, refuses to turn in work, asks why they failed a paper they only did half of, just look at them, tell them global warming is going to cause the world to explode, Surface just might be true, and even if it isn’t Iran will soon have nuclear weapons so the world’s pretty much gone no matter how you look at it. Their little problems really mean nothing in the bigger scope of things.

And that cured all negativity.

Nothing like a little honesty to put things in perspective.

The truth is, we live in a pretty decent time. Things might seem a little crazy, but I like the 21st century just fine. And I like my students too. Honestly, all the people I eat with do. It’s why we can laugh–even when it seems there’s nothing to laugh about. And it’s why I love the teacher’s lounge.

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