Saturday, January 2, 2010
The Arabic meaning of my name is happy. And every time I tell people the meaning of my name, they say it makes sense because I'm always smiling from ear to ear. And I love to smile with my teeth. My family can be funny sometimes, and when we take family pictures, my dad always tells us to close our mouths and smile without our teeth. He says that when we smile with our teeth that it makes us look like idiots (He really doesnt mean it in a harsh way, but when you translate the word from Bangla to English, it sounds harsh. But I know that it's not his intention to be mean). It's just cultural phooey, if you ask me. My siblings and I can never decipher between him joking or being serious, so we just laugh and end up smiling with our teeth. Thus probably ruining the picture.
You might find it amusing to know though, that I'm very self conscious of my smile. If I could change one thing about my physical demeanor, it would be my smile. I mean it wouldn't be the only thing. But if I had to pick only one, then it would be that. Growing up, kids are not that nice to each other. And I used to get teased a lot for my big smile, small teeth, and very big gums. When you get called out like that for those features, looking in the mirror, you start believing it. And you keep believing it, even when people tell you otherwise.
Since then, when I smile or laugh, I cover my mouth. Sometimes I do it. Sometimes I don't.Some days I cringe thinking about my smile. Some days I say to hell with what others think. All depending on my confidence level that particular day.
One day while being evaluated by my assistant principal, I tried to put forth a very hard persona. Thinking my superior would like it and see that I meant business with my students and that I was a firm teacher with excellent classroom management. When we discussed her observation and evaluation, one thing she critiqued me on was my lack of smiling. She said "You're always smiling. But I didn't see it a single time while you were teaching. Kids need teachers to smile at them. You could be the only one that they get that from in an entire day. They need that."
Boy, did I feel petty.
A lot of the times I can be mean and cruel to my kids. Yes, I know that. It never clicked with me that lack of smiling wasn't helping them in any way. And I've noticed, since my superior has pointed it out, that when I do smile and laugh and give an occasional wink to my kids, it makes them so happy. Like it's a secret between us.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says, "Your smile for your brother is charity."
Some of my kids have rough lives. Hell, a lot of the kids at this school do. And coming to school, is a hard task for some of them. And I'm sure coming to school with a "grumpy" looking teacher doesn't help the matter.
If I can help them by teaching them a thing or two, that's great. If I can make them feel good, by a simple act such as a smile, even better.
It's simple things, small things, simple small things, that make all of the difference.