04 February 2008

Harlan Pepper! Would you stop naming nuts!

I have come to accept that my life is mere repetition. Every aspect requires it.

As a mother, the repetition becomes little mantras ensuring success: Do you have your homework? Drive carefully. Call when you get there.

If I say these things, ask these questions each time, the future is assured in my favor.

As a pet owner, the repetition is always directives ending in sheer futility and exclamation points aimed at one of our three dachshunds: Stop licking my floor! Stop eating the firewood! Get out of the kitchen!

Saying these things ensures nothing.

As a teacher, the repetition is both a tiny prayer for success and an exercise in sheer futility: That was due yesterday. Yes, you may hand it in tomorrow. Yes, I'll be taking some points off. You need to pay attention because we'll be discussing this later. You missed my explanation because you came in late. I will fill you in after class.

The problem with those who must repeat themselves is that they find themselves often ignored (hence, the repetition. Or are we ignored because the repetition is necessary and ultimately boring? Who knows?). We see ourselves as lonely, frustrated voices that speak the truth, so many Cassandras foretelling doom or prophesying good fortune. Doesn't matter because no one's listening anyway.

All of which brings me rather ungracefully to my point: In the midst of repeated explanations of why we were watching the R-rated Grizzly Man (because the main character separates himself from society, and this is a theme we've followed in literature this year from Hamlet to Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart and will continue to follow in Into the Wild), why I needed permission slips even though they are 17 and 18 (because the movie is R-rated and the school district is not the real world), and finally how a grizzly bear could hold (as the movie rather baldly specifies) four garbage bags of human remains, I noticed one of my children pondering this last topic.

As the others debated the issue and I, for once, stayed out of the discussion, it being the end of class and all, one student, who never speaks in class, not ever, but who occasionally smiles and always appears to try, to want to please, finally summed it all up for all of us: The reason for the four garbage bags, he said was because "that bear ate them like he was eating a candy bar without taking off the wrapper." A brief pause, and then a flash of recognition from the class, horrifying, yet somehow gratifying all the same . . . Ohhhhhhhh. Ewwww! Man!

A strange ephiphany, but an epiphany nonetheless. Such are the small accomplishments in my world of repetition. For now, my children are safe, my pets are not gnawing my firewood or licking my floor, and my students eagerly await the day two showing of Grizzly Man. I'm not sure I can ask for more than that.

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