Why are teachers known as voracious vacuum cleaners around food? Here's an insight.
(Or, How I Gained Weight Teaching)
"Eat my feelings?" I asked, eyebrows raised.
"Yes." My therapist quit making notes for a moment. He can write while maintaining eye contact--uncanny, I call it. "Many people use food to cope with feelings, especially schoolteachers like yourself. The extra bowl of chocolate ice cream you consume during Friends re-runs may be an expression of loneliness at spending another evening alone, or perhaps frustrations left over from your work day."
"Oh." Had I already mentioned my ice cream habit? I couldn't remember. But of course, he would. He wrote everything down.
"Why don't you try keeping a daily journal for a couple of weeks? Then we'll try to notice any food-emotion connections."
I really hate doing anything daily. Especially writing down emotions. I mean, then I'd have to notice them, you know? Frankly, I think two chocolate chip cookies or a bowl of Caramel Swirl with chocolate sauce are good substitutes for frustration.
Think about it: I get home from teaching fifth grade after spending half an hour helping a parent get all the assignments and books for a student who hasn't done a lick of work in six days. He’ll get it finished tonight, Dad promises. No Game-Boy.
Then I erase the board and do a once-over the floor by picking up chewed pencils, watches, homework papers, pencil shavings, pencil sharpeners, crumpled notes (“Yolanda likes Joey.”), chewed pens, my very own overhead markers without lids.
Next I go through the papers for the day. I check off what's done, tape the ones that are only done on the front side to their various owner's desks with a note to PLEASE FINISH, correct thirty-two math quizzes, decide not to grade thirty-two personal narratives, check self-corrections on thirty-two spelling tests, take a call from a grandparent who needs to explain how she got custody of my student after the mother’s abandonment, and why it's hard for the child to feel good about himself in school. We're both sniffling when she's done, but I quickly fill out the Terrific Kid form for the principal, the reading series survey for the Curriculum Office, the bargaining issues survey for the teachers' union, and finally carry those personal narratives to my car after all to grade during Friends. By myself.
I grab a burger and eat it in the car at the stop lights. I get home just in time to dish out some ice cream before the music starts. I find I left the thirty-two personal narratives in the car. Just as well.
Made it! Now, what emotion is this ice cream expressing? Who cares, as long as there's plenty of chocolate sauce.