This past weekend was a busy one for me. (Umm, so what else is new?) First there was the cruise I was on as a "guardian" to our junior students and then on Sunday a visit to an event for women at a local conference hotel.
The cruise went well. One of my colleagues was with me (plus some students' parents) and we had a delightfully relaxing 24 or so hours. Dined well on Friday evening at the fancy restaurant, partied till 2.30 a.m. and slept in till almost midday. Did some shopping, smiled at the headachy students who were hanging about in various states of well-being and had another good meal in the buffet with some of the students (they were mostly feeling pretty good, I suppose) and then got home in time for some cleaning up of the apartment. Very respectable.
During the cruise I and my colleague pondered a lot about the curious role we're in as young teachers. First of all, being a teacher sometimes brings up the fierce lioness in us. You know, the kind of ultimate feeling of responsibility and protectiveness towards the young people that would normally be linked with parenthood. Neither of us has children of our own, but we still both have had those feelings of "Do not make me act all teacher-y on you! Because I will, if you don't treat these kids well!" with the students. It really is very odd to feel like that about youngsters one doesn't really know that well after all.
On the other hand, the kids certainly treat us in a more formal way (as is appropriate) than for example the parents who were also on the cruise as guardians. It's not like it's a surprise, but for someone obviously closer to the students' age than the parents are, it's funny to be in a situation where even the parents probably considered us as some sort of authorities. Even though we're only in our late 20's. (I'm trying to avoid thinking I'll be 30 this October, yikes.) But for heaven's sake, we're teachers!
It's an odd feeling of somehow sudden professionalism (meaning I still sometimes wonder if I'm actually adult enough to be a teacher...) to notice that teachers are treated a bit differently and that I also interact a bit differently with all kinds of people thanks to my "status" as a teacher. It's a combination of reservation, no-nonsense and roleplaying. And oh my how the students must've thought we teachers were nuts (or just plain embarrassing) when we danced in the nightclub for almost 3 hours straight. All through stuff like Snoop Dogg, 50cent and whathaveyou.
There was even one young guy (not one of our students) who, for some reason still not clear to me, came to me and asked in an honestly puzzled tone "Do you also listen to this kind of music?" The DJ was playing some hiphop song at the moment and I was having a blast "shaking my booty" to it. I just kinda stared at the guy and blurted out something like "Of course I do." I mean, why wouldn't I? Because I'm ancient compared to an 18-year-old? Did I perhaps look even older than nearly 30? Gosh, it still bugs me that I didn't ask him why he asked. :)
Am I not in the target group for hiphop? Probably not, if one thinks about it really, but hey, I don't plan on gathering moss on my way to the bigger numbers. And I have a background of 10 years of oriental dancing.
Anyway, we young teachers survived the cruise, as did our young students and their older parents, too. Fun was had by all (at least as far as I was able to tell) and we teachers got to do some professional self-analysing on the way. And got to be "bourgeois" while at it, too. Heh. Fancy dinners, a bottle of respectable port for "souvenir" and a taxi home.
The event on Sunday was the other thing that got me thinking what the society expects (or seems to expect) of a woman my age. I got free tickets to the NaisDay event from a Celtic Jewellery seller I bought some Christmas presents from. (For those of you who speak English, a short explanation is in place: "Nais" in Finnish is pronounced as "nice" is pronounced in English, but it conveniently has the actual meaning of "relating to women". In other words, the silly Finnish-English name of the event implies both "a nice day" and "a women's day". Pretty nifty, eh? Well, not really. I personally don't like the Finglishms or whatever you might call these mutations of two languages mixed up in one name.)
Aaanyway. I spent a couple of hours browsing through the stalls & watching a couple of performances with my friend - bought a bottle of hairspray and a Celtic brooch for my new scarf. Other than that, the best part of the whole event was the short drag show we saw. It was funny, had really fast costume changes and some pretty fine dancing.
But why is it that I'm expected to want to host all sorts of Tupperware/clothing line/cosmetics/candle/sex toy parties? Sure, I've been to some myself, but I honestly don't feel like I'd like to host one. Not in the very near future, anyway.
Or why is it somehow expected that when I go to an event for women, I'd want to see a psychic? There was a section of "spiritual growth" -related stalls in one corner of the conference center and we couldn't be bothered to even check it out. I'm sorry to say this but I honestly feel like fortune telling and whatever combined with an event like this is almost insulting - how gullible do they think I am?
Or perhaps I don't fit into the target group in this, either. My friend and I may just fit into a small minority of non-believers, boring feet-to-the-ground kinda women. Perhaps the "every woman" likes to go to the fortune teller's desk and hear how her life is going to have a turn to better in the near future. Or maybe the fortune telling is a bad example. If it was free, I'd probably be ok with listening to some mumbojumbo about my future, too. Just for silly amusement. But I wouldn't want to try an ear candle treatment, for example. Which in my books sounds certainly like the kind of rubbish I wouldn't want to try even for amusement, even if it didn't cost a thing.
I'm always amused by magazine sellers, though. They usually start by asking which mag I'd like to order and then they list half a dozen of mags like Cosmopolitan and Gloria. My honest answer? At the moment I wouldn't pay for any of them. Once I did order Cosmo (when the Finnish version was first published), but I found it to be utter waste of time and certainly insulting to my intelligence most of the time. Most of the other mags for women fall into the same category. Sure, I read them when I'm at the hairdresser's, but to order one of them? Nope, no thanks. I'd rather read National Geographic, the Finnish science mag Tiede or the movie mag Empire. Any day. Not surprisingly, they didn't have those available at the event, so I did not order Gloria for 7 months for 25,50 euros. Thanks, but no thanks.
So, I guess I'm not the target group most of the time. Too old for hiphop, too educated (or something) for bogus spiritual treatments and too something (young? nerd?) for MeNaiset-magazine... And yet I am a single woman, soon 30, live in a city and have a respectable job. I fall between target groups in a very odd and effective way. I bet some of you do too.