A very worried wolf

1st October 2004 at 01:00
The notice pinned up on the door was small and neatly printed. "Due to unforeseen circumstances, the seminar on anxiety has been cancelled."

Underneath, in a shaky hand, someone had written, "I was afraid that might happen."

Why does worry sometimes feel so good, especially if you're in a caring profession? Here's me, worrying about all these people: I must be a really nice person. And now, here's me, at the end of another day, looking back on a tranquil section of battlefield where the army never appeared, stunned by a blow I never expected from a completely different direction.

Why do I always worry about the things that don't happen and never about the things that do? As a seasoned worrier, I should be able to sneak up on Fortune and see what she has up her sleeve. No chance. She has too many sleeves, and she's been around too long.

I never expected the smallest child in 3C to faint and disappear under the rest of the class. I never expected the wasp to fly straight towards my nose at registration, nor for me to lose all dignity in squeaky panic.

This, of course, delighted my sarcastic 10T, especially after my lecture about how it won't sting you if you KEEP CALM. So where does the word "worry" come from? Can its origins tell me why it has such a hold on a teacher's life?

"From Middle English 'worowen': to strangle; the worrying of sheep by hounds or wolves." Which one am I, then? Am I a hounded sheep, outnumbered by a pack of Year 9s locked out of their ravaged classroom again? Or am I a sheepish hound, worried by 4B because I haven't marked the work they gave in last week? Hmm. What else does it say ...

"Worry ... allied to 'curse' and also to 'outlaw, wolf, accused person'."

Blimey! No wonder I find it hard to get to sleep on Sunday nights! All those times when I felt that the class didn't like me, that it WAS personal - I was right! I'm really worried now ...

"Worry ... from 'choke, throttle, strangle and rope'."

Okay, now I see a way to turn this around. Is it just possible that as a teacher, I am also a source of worry to my pupils? After all, there was the memorable poetic justice of when my most bolshie pupil wrote an essay on stress for her German teacher. She listed me as her number one source of stress.

Heh, heh. So, I'm a wolf, an outlaw, and a sheepish accused person. But I still have a few pieces of rope up my own sleeve.

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