This One Hurt
I want to say I wish the same thing, that I wish we could do a time-freeze and kick ourselves back Marty McFly style to those days when someone was trying to teach you letter sounds, or sight word recognition, and how to put it all together, because unlike R. or A. or C. your learning gap profile is less clear, revealing less obvious deficiencies except for the fact that you’re not learning, not at all, not nearly enough, and I want that too, to travel backwards to a point where the distance between what you know and what you need to know was measurable in thematic units of study, rather than a number of years nearly half the total number you’ve been alive, that point where we could have filled that mental backpack with some tools -- bright ones, sharp ones, powerful ones that whir and buzz and hum and dig deep – and done something about all this so that all the time between then and now would not come across as such an exercise in waste and futility, endlessly starting at the bottom of an ever-growing mountain and trying to summit the damn thing with tools everyone knows are insufficient to the task. But the Libyans won’t sell me any plutonium, and we’re stuck in the endlessly expanding present, where everyday yields another iteration of vocab-spelling-fluency-grammar-essays-reading strategies-application-tie-in-assessment groundswell, and the best I got is pushing and pulling and giving speeches about habit-breaking and new habit-forming, and about wanting it, because I know you can remember the myspace display-name of everyone who has commented in the last 48 hours, and therefore you could also learn 30 vocabulary words, subject-verb agreement, and the means to interpret non-fiction subject headings.
“There is no going back,” I do say, and some of the bustle of filling out test record reports, step-up awards, English Experts sheets subsides, one of those autonomic responses to tone found in the teenager of the species, “there is only going forward, and we can go forward. That time you miss is also in the future, and we can find the way there again.”
And from somewhere over my shoulder a voice says, “Let’s hope so,” and in that dusty-over-the-bifocals-English-professor phrasing, no doubt acquired from my own over-use, I am hit with the sudden wish to go back in time myself, back to point where arrogance and unworldliness provoked more forceful rejoinders, instilled greater refrains in students than "let's hope so" -- a grandmother’s response to promises of improvement that I have apparently saddled them with. I want my own November 5, 1955, a fulcrum point where a confluence of events could reverse the fade-out wash-away translucence that makes quiet mockery of the all the reform-attempting, conference-going, leadership-acquiring of the past years.
Or maybe just this: “I wish I could go back to the time when I was smart,” is so completely not what I meant when I affirmed my belief in the theory of malleable intelligence during my TFA selection interviews.