So, I think I’ve developed a shush reflex.
I’m not sure when this happened exactly, but today a coworker asked me, “Did you tell me to shhh?” And I honestly didn’t know. If I had, it wasn’t an angry shush. You know, the kind that librarians in movies give to insensitive, overly enthusiastic teens who dare to interrupt the bookworms. Eyebrows furrowed, mouth pursed. And it wasn’t a hopeful shush. The almost sarcastic kind that I give the students when I remind them about what they’re supposed to sound like in the hallway.Raised eyebrows, bright eyes, exaggerated finger to mouth. And it definitely wasn’t the “stop right there” kind of shush where my finger goes toward the offending talker with a little bit of a side eye and a “really?” kind of head tilt.
No, this shush would have been much more off-hand. Absentminded even. Because it was literally absent from my mind. My coworker thought that I had given him a “shhh” as a warning not to say any “teacher only” content because a student was in the room. He appreciated the reminder, but I was befuddled.
It worried me because just a few nights ago my husband accusingly looked and me and said, “Did you just shush me?” And I shook my head, “No, I don’t think so.” But the qualifier meant that I realized I might have. I reassured him (and partially myself), “I don’t want you to stop talking, I was just trying to capture a thought.”
This thought often ends up hovering just beyond my reach. I know it was there, and sometimes I can snatch it, but mostly I just have to shrug my shoulders and let it migrate back to me. Sometimes I have helpers. My poor students. They ask, “Mrs. Bakke, did you remember who gets to sit in the comfy chairs?” Or tell me, “Mrs. Bakke, check for your timer behind the poster.” I’m usually thankful that they operate as my external brain. But it also makes me realize all that they notice and all that I’m missing.
This shush reflex thing worries me though. I’m either so used to constantly quieting my students (probably not well by the way, if I’m needing to resort to the “SHHH”) or so scatterbrained that I’m trying to protect myself from any new inputs. It’s a wake up call to be more present in my conversations. I promise I want to hear you, I just need to shut myself off first.