“Under pressure” is a phrase that reminds me of my Father-in-law’s old joke: “Do you know what an expert is? Just a former drip under pressure!” I do know the true meaning of the phrase since I’ve lived under pressure most of my life. Yes, much of that pressure was self-inflicted, but never-the-less, it was real.
As the oldest child in my family, I had the responsibility for the safety of my brother and sister when we were “latch key” kids after school until my mother got home from work. My father was always gone over the road somewhere as a truck driver. My siblings knew how to pressure me when I didn’t let them have their way instead of following Mom’s house rules.
I felt great pressure as I was taken from my neighborhood school and sent to the gifted program in a far away, higher class neighborhood. I tripled the length of my daily walk to school, and I felt the social pressure of being from the “wrong neighborhood.” I likewise felt pressure about grades since my parents were no help to me with homework, etc. since neither had even a high school education. In spite of it all, I did well. I didn’t bow to the pressure. I did, however, create new ways of meeting the needs I had to perform up to speed for the gifted program.
Over my career as a school administrator, I have been pressured by many groups, many rules, and many deadlines. Yet, I have loved my career. In fact, I think all those pressures molded me into the person I am today. Because I chose to teach full time while I was also the administrator, I felt the pressures my teachers endured. I, too, was constantly pressured by a disgruntled parent to change the rules for his/her child.
I believe I endured successfully because of two things. First, I believed and took as my creed the Bible verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The second thing was that I always put the good of the child first and foremost in any decision or action. Often that decision caused me to suffer some pain from powers that be, but in the long run, it always turned out for the best.
We are just weeks away from the summer break. I always tell my staff that it will get worse before it gets better. Children can smell the summer break, and they are chomping at the bit to spend every waking moment outside. Yet, we must administer achievement tests this week. We must also help them survive recess since they run with complete abandonment during these last weeks. I think the lemmings have nothing on the students’ “self-destruct mood” during the last weeks of school. So, I will grab more bandages, more antiseptic, and more aspirin for everyone. In the end, we will all survive. I speak from fifty-four years of experience.