Batshit crazy is a colorful term I recently gleaned from an English teacher with whom I work. According to what I found online at Urban Dictionary, the phrase is likely derived from “bats in the belfry” and suggests that bats begin to roost when there is a vacancy in one’s head.
I have my own interpretation of this descriptive phrase, however. When work, kids, the house, and the ex-husband overwhelm me…When my pleas to go to bed turn into high-pitched shrieks and I am forced to seek shelter in my cave (OK, my bathroom)…When I shun the rising sun… this is when I know I have gone batshit crazy. It’s not from a lack of activity in my head—it’s from overload.
I pick up a lot of great material, like the aforementioned expression, at my primary job. Monday through Friday I work in a middle school office. On the weekends I teach elementary through high school-aged students in two different synagogues. So, I am always with kids—other people’s or my own. The key difference in my two roles—teacher versus parent—is my behavior. I’d lose my livelihood if batshit crazy showed up for work. For this reason, sometimes I feel like I am a much better teacher than parent.
The other day, while stuffing envelopes at my desk, I overheard a young teacher reprimanding a student outside of my office, and try as I might, I couldn’t ignore this conversation. She was outstanding. I couldn’t look away.
I have numerous excuses to justify moments when I fail as a mom—I am divorced, trying to do it all on my own. I am exhausted working seven days a week. I am greatly outnumbered in my house. I have no personal life, and of course, I worry about finances constantly.
But, excuses suck and they don’t undo damage. So I’ve spent considerable time analyzing why I think this teacher was so awesome during her encounter with the student so that I can hopefully channel her demeanor and wisdom the next time something sets off the batshit crazy at home.
Here’s what she got right, and what I strive to emulate with my own kids:
1. She was patient. God, I wish I could buy her patience. She sat there next to the student on the bench and explained to him how he had disappointed his partner by failing to do his share of work on a group project. She was articulate and thorough and she never got off course.
2. She kept her cool. Though she was disappointed by his lack of effort on the project, she never became emotional. She was firm, but didn’t raise her voice.
3. She came from a compassionate place. She wanted the student to understand what he did wrong and to help him understand how continuing to perform at such a low level will hurt his prospects in the future. She encouraged him to empathize with his partner’s feelings by having him describe how he would feel if the roles were reversed. She clearly cared about the child and was investing in him.
4. She made sure she was being heard. She wasn’t preaching; she was communicating her message clearly and intelligently. She also asked him questions throughout the conversation to ensure he comprehended.
5. She was kind. She wasn’t intimidating, she didn’t say anything hurtful or demeaning, and she spoke to him as if he were a respected equal.
6. She was not defensive. She never questioned her teaching ability. She didn’t make the issue about her in any way. Her focus was entirely on him.
So to the teacher who schooled me on parenting that morning, I say many thanks. You’ve given me a big assignment. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I don’t want to let my little partners down either. I will do better.
The Only Rule I Have in My House
Confessions of a Blind Hebrew School Teacher
Mayim Bialik’s Tools for Divorce