I have confidence there are several unflattering photos of me circulating among the parents' facebook pages this morning. At one point, a little black girl with a head full of ponytails and a tousle-headed blue-eyed blond boy had both had enough fun for one morning. Each used one of my big, squishy boobs for a pillow. If any parent got that picture, it's the money shot of the day. Martin Luther King, Jr's spirit hovers in the hallways of the church where I work, after all. Fifty years ago when I was a little girl, such a scene would have been impossible to imagine.
Naturally, I cried when we sang "Inch by Inch, Row by Row." I cry every year when we sing that song because as teachers of very young children, we bust our butts every year to make sure the kids understand what living in community means. At least at my school we bust our butts - I'm pretty sure Martin Luther King makes sure our collective butts are busting. The point of the whole preschool experience at our school is that the kids gain the understanding that in a community we take care of each other and our stuff. Taking care of stuff is important because when we act as good stewards, then the community will always have plenty of good food, good toys and good art supplies. What more do you need? And since the stuff belongs to the community - I guess we're fully communists.
I never thought about the political labels of preschool until the last couple of years because to me, political labels are something The Owners (as defined by George Carlin) use to keep the workers fighting with each other so we don't notice they're fucking us over - or following Jay Gould's famous boast regarding striking railroad workers and hiring one half of the working class to kill off the other.
When one of your school theme songs was popularized by Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, you may as well say it loud, I'm pinko and proud.
I'd post a version that includes Arlo, but Arlo Guthrie has to tell a story every chance he gets so those videos are nine minutes long. Pete keeps it short and sweet which is a good thing whether you're two or fifty two (or even older like I am now since my birthday was last week).
Anyway - all this classroom and kid stuff has made me realize that I've become Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus.
She's a redhead, too, like the woman leading the crowd in that painting, Liberty Leading the People about the Paris uprising in 1830, especially Storming the Bastille. I like to think teaching preschool is my little way of storming the Bastille. It may not be as spectacular and historic, but like Pete sings - Inch by Inch, Row by Row. Over time, in the long run, the work has impact.
Given that my parents used to compare me to Edith Ann on Laugh-In, it may have been inevitable that I'd evolve into another Lily Tomlin character as I aged.
Overall, Miss Frizzle is a wonderful character to be even though she's not a bit sexy as defined by Hollywood, the fashion industry and the media in general. Neither was Lily Tomlin but she's brilliant and influential - so fuck 'em.
I've recently been reminded that one way The Patriarchy makes sure nobody listens to smart women is to denigrate their looks. Zsuzanna Budapest, who writes extensively about the Goddess, feminism and pagan spirituality, was on Here Be Monsters with Gwen and Nicole last week (Consciousness Shift, June 6, 2013). She had plenty to say about war being a business in a historical, feminist context. Brilliant, insightful, funny and wise - kind of like Edith Ann now that I think about it, and certainly like Miss Frizzle who often tells her students, "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!"
This whole aging thing is majorly unsettling because as women age, we're shoved into a severely marginalized zone where conventional thinking says we're dried up and generally worthless as human beings since we're past child bearing age, but reality shows we frequently have more money and social clout than anybody else in society - which is most likely why burning witches was so popular back in the day - it was the very best way for the Patriarchy (read The Church/State) to silence a woman and take her property (Burning Women: The European Witch Hunts, Enclosure and the Rise of Capitalism). So even though I know intellectually that I'm just hitting my stride when it comes to professional accomplishment and that I am still sexual and vibrant and whatever - there's a lifetime of accumulated bullshit that says old women are worthless. And the worst part is that Miss Frizzle isn't even all that old.