Saturday, October 14, 2006

Very long post ahead...don't say I didn't warn you.
It started out as an email to a friend, but I decided to put it on my blog and see what everyone had to say about it.

First of all, I cannot even begin to tell you how torn I am about even writing this post. I have such powerful feelings about this topic that I almost can't even write about it because what I'm going to say about this particular person will not be very nice. I am trying so hard to be nicer about this person and think about what I say before I say it, but I feel like this is my blog and I'll say whatever I choose. Anyway, here goes:

For quite some time now, I've been suspicious that my co-teacher does not believe in God. She makes seemingly innocent comments about "I'm going to read this character building story (that's not from the Bible) because I think kids are too young to be indoctrinated in that sort of thing." Let me tell you, that does NOT sit well with me! I feel like that was almost the devil himself challenging me and my beliefs, you know? Well maybe that's dramatizing it a bit, but I'm sure you know how I must have felt. But I tried to let it slide with no comments from me because really it's none of my business what she believes. But it is my business what she teaches "my" kids and it really bothered me that she does not read from the Bible. (Just a note: Remember, I do work at a church. And by law, they are not allowed to require us to do Bible stories, etc. but it's just kind of an understood thing. This is something I struggle with because I am so shamefully ignorant of the Bible, but I am learning a little at a time.)

Then one evening after work, I saw her getting into her car. Her back bumper is covered with bumper stickers and as I was walking by, I happened to notice what one said. It said "Goddess Bless America." What in the world?! What is she doing working at a church?! Ooh, I was so offened by that sticker! But again, I told myself it's none of my business what she does when she's not at work...just as long as she doesn't bring it in the classroom.

Yesterday, she was adjusting her necklace and having quite a hard time with it. She wears several different pendants on one very long chain and was having trouble getting them to lay straight. She made a comment about "Oh, my necklace is being difficult" or something to that effect and I casually asked "What's on your necklace?" She explained that it's 3 charms. She called them her "spiritual charms". One is a moonstone, one is a Celtic trefoil (she called this particular symbol by the wrong name AND mispronounced the name she DID call it, by the way) and a symbol of the goddess Diana. Well, I got to thinking about that today and looked up online about which religions use these particular symbols. Know which one came up? Wicca! This woman is wiccan and teaching in my class! While I am not an expert, by any means, on the beliefs of this so-called "religion", I am so offended by the fact that she is working in a CHURCH! (And that I have to work with her!)

While I want to do what is right and be nice and try my best to get along with her in spite of her beliefs, I am struggling with this one! And I haven't asked her point blank what her religious affiliation is (and I'm not about to), but I can't help but feel challenged by this. It stirs up feelings I can't even begin to describe. I've never been very vocal about my beliefs. I've seen far too many people just tune out when the subject of Jesuse Christ is even mentioned and this makes me a pretty quiet believer. Of course, I do share when asked about my faith and try to live in a way that would make my Heavenly Father proud. (Although sadly, for many years I kind of chose to forget about that part of my raising.)

Even before this situation arose, I felt a sense of hunger for a church I could feel at home in, a church family that would welcome me and teach me and help me grow, and overall a more "right" way of life. But now, I feel even more compelled to find what I'm searching for because as I say, I feel my beliefs are being challenged every day.

I guess the point of this post is to ask how you would handle this. Before I realized this about her "religion", I went to my boss today and just vented (as nicely as possible) about how much working with this woman is wearing me down. She is SO LOUD! I mean she practically yells at the kids ALL THE TIME! And I'm not the only one who has noticed, either. The parents have complained to me about her and I haven't told a soul because I agree with them! And she also NEVER SHUTS UP! She thinks she's an expert on all things kid related and let me tell you, she is SO far off base with her teaching practices! Everything I've ever read has said that using the fewest words is the way to get through to this age group. For example: "Don't hit." Instead of "Why did you hit haven't I told you hitting is wrong and it hurts your friend how would you feel if your friend hit you like that you wouldn't like it would you no I didn't think so now sit here and think about what you've done and why it's wrong to hit and why you won't ever ever hit your friend again." And yes, I did mean to type that as all one sentence because it would seem to the child being spoken to that's what she's saying. And she does say all that. And more. Lots more. And it is slowly driving me crazy! Add her constant chatter to the already millions of words I hear each day (and love to hear) from each of the nine kids in our room and that leaves me with one mammoth headache.

When I talked to my boss, I told her that I'd given it a lot of thought and prayer and still was struggling very much with trying to deal with the fact that I really don't like this woman very much. She was very understanding about it and said she'd think it over and try to come up with a solution. But I mainly just wanted her to listen to me vent because I know she knows how I feel. She sees the same stuff I do and probably dislikes her as much as I do but can't be so unprofessional as to say so. In my co-teacher's defense though, she really is kind of knowledgeable about some things. (Spelling and grammar and Jesus Christ excluded.) She has had a lot of experience in the classroom but hearing her background leaves me wondering why she's not still working at those places. (Probably because she's CRAZY!)

Any suggestions?
Do you think I should find some way to tactfully alert my boss about what I've learned about her? (Not sure quite how to do that without sounding like a tattletale and a gossip.) Should I ask her about what she believes? (Even though it's really kind of none of my business?)

I have no idea what to do, but I know that working with her is really exhausting and damaging to my self-esteem and my happiness. (She constantly second-guesses my decisons and everything I do in the classroom...even though when I ask my boss about it, she totally agrees with what I am doing and says that's exactly what she would have done too.)

I did go today to the library and checked out several potentially useful books:
I got:
How to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere: the secrets of good communication by Larry King
How to get along with difficult people by Florence Littauer
The art of happiness at work by the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler
Who's pushing your buttons? Handling the difficult people in your life by John Townsend
Hopefully these books will help me deal with her nicely. What I really want to do is get her wicca-believing butt fired, but that wouldn't be very nice now would it?

Oh, and another kinda random thing I just remembered about her? She calls herself a vegetarian but eats chicken and pepperoni. Yes, folks. This is the kind of person I am talking about! CRAZY!