"Why is that?"
"I had to correct your daughter," she says, knowing that it irritates me when she says "your" to describe the moments our daughter gets into trouble. Why am I the rebel?
"She had real empathy when I talked about the difficulty involved in having to discipline. It turns out one of her sons is special needs and she feels a stronger sense of guilt every time she gets angry. We talked about authority and authenticity. It was strange to have this great conversation with a total stranger."
"I know what you mean," I say. Truth is I'm more introverted and I doubt that I would ever speak to a stranger in the park.
"It turns out that she works at your school. Her name is Eunice, I think."
"Really tall, red hair?"
"Nope. It might be Mildred. Do you have a Mildred?"
"With the big mole on her nose?"
"No, maybe it's not Mildred. I know, it's Gertrude."
"You mean Gertrude the Enemy of All Things Tom Johnson Wants to Accompilish?"
"But she seemed so nice. She even talked about how hard it is to do her job when there's so much pressure from above to get the teachers on the same track."
It has me thinking about enemies. Perhaps my wife is right. Gertrude at the Park might be a different person than Gertrude the Ruiner of Plans. Or perhaps she is he same person, but just complicated. Maybe she's scared. Maybe she's stressed by dealing with a special needs kid. Maybe she's human after all.
Perhaps Gertrude is not the enemy of pencil-based innovation. Perhaps the true enemy is an ideology of articiality. Or maybe the enemy is a much more visceral fear - a fear that our students will be behind on the global pissing contest. Or maybe it's a system and a structure that churns out robotic students prepared for the factories. Whatever the enemy is, I'm becoming convinced that it is not an individual or a person. In fact, it is the opposite. The enemy isn't human. The enemy is a process of dehumanization.