I had a Parent’s Evening last night. Me being the Teacher and them being the Parent. All day I was not looking forward to it as I felt like my body was on fire and my stomach was on it’s seventeenth spin cycle due to the aforementioned whole bottle of vodka I managed to down the night before.
It turned out to be brilliant. Almost every single parent told me that Science was their child’s favourite lesson and that they go home yakking on about all the amazing things they had learned.
One parent provided the most entertaining appointment I have ever had. He was mid 40’s, a little dishevelled and came and stood animatedly at my table.
“Are you scientific? You’re scientific aren’t you Mr Soandso?” was his opening line.
I was a little shaken by the bizarre introduction but confirmed that I was a science teacher.
“Oh, I really need to talk to you.” He sat down.
As a teacher, I instantly assumed I had done something wrong. Did I not set enough homework? Was his child bored in my lessons? Were they being bullied? He continued…
“I was just speaking to this guy…” pointing to a grubby bit of paper with the name of a Religious Education teacher scrawled in green pen. “…and do you know what he told me? He told me that Mohammed, right, went to a mountain on a flying horse with wings! I mean, that horse never existed right? Science can prove it never existed so why do they teach kids this ridiculous stuff?”
At this point I started smiling, partly because I wasn’t in trouble and partly due to the feeling I was watching a stand up comedy act. He continued, informing me of his atheism and the scientists and writers he admires (Dawkins, Hitchens etc.). He pressed me for my views and I mentioned that I too am an atheist which seemed to please him greatly.
Eventually, after professing his love of science to me (taking in everything from telescopes to quarks) he asked me how his daughter was doing in my lesson. When he said her name I couldn’t imagine the relationship between them. She is very polite, quiet, serious but intelligent. He is very animated, funny and obviously passionate. He seemed pleased with my responses, especially when I told him we were focusing on practical work in year 7.
“I like you Mr Soandso, you’re alright by me.” he said standing up. As he walked off he turned around and loudly suggested “I could go for a drink with you. We could have a drink and put the world to rights eh?”. With that, he was gone.
Driving home at around 8pm after a long, hungover day at work I was in a great mood so obviously my brain started to think about drinking again. I had no money with me so I couldn’t buy any on the way home but knew I had some dregs of vodka in the bottles I hide in the garage. I promised myself I wouldn’t drink them and just grab some food and go to bed.
First thing I do when I get home is to check on the wife and kids. She is in my 4 year old’s bed getting him off to sleep. It’s a little later than usual but not a problem. She then tells me:
- She is feeling tired due to her cold.
- She worked very hard today (which she does)
- She went to my 7 year old’s parents evening.
- She had to come home and work late into the evening which is why the kids aren’t asleep yet.
- My eldest left his PE kit at school. She is not happy about this as she feels like the ‘bad’ parent telling him off all the time.
This is the trigger for why I went and got that vodka out. I was so ready to tell her the stories of my uplifting and entertaining parents evening and instead, I come out of the room feeling deflated and numb. I can’t believe how easily I let her mood affect mine. Of course I accept it’s my fault I went down into the garage and had a few drinks last night.
Why do I constantly react like this to her moods? Maybe it comes from the guilt I feel about letting her down. When we married she had no idea I would become addicted to alcohol in such a self destructive way that has affected her life considerably. While we are not anywhere near losing our home we do have a large amount of debt. It was started by my desperate attempts to fund my drinking but she has contributed too by insisting on some expensive home renovation projects at times when we couldn’t afford it. I think this is the root of her unhappiness with me and why, even if she is just having a bad day or something happens that stresses her out, her release valve is to blame me and make me feel crappy too. The worst thing is feeling like I deserve it.
My release valve is the numbing effect of alcohol.
I won’t be drinking tonight, we are getting ready for a holiday and I have to drive for nearly 4 hours on Friday evening and although I am clearly an alcoholic idiot I would never put my family at risk in that way.
Tldr: If I’m going to make this current sobriety attempt work then I cannot let my wife’s mood affect mine to such a degree.