Spilling wine onto the latest barge of essays I was marking for my fifth graders on Friday night, I had a revelation. It’s time that I quit this teaching bullshit and become a governess for the children of a wealthy landed estate owner instead.
As my dreams of becoming a teacher were wholly inspired by the likes of Jane Eyre, I don’t know why it took me so long to realize my true calling. Somewhere along the way of my early career, my fantasies of overseeing one beautifully docile “seen not heard” Victorian child with Mr. Rochester pining from a distance, became me pining at the world outside the window of a public school, with eleven-year-old boys interlacing swearing with conversations on vaping and Fortnite over their multiplication sheets. Hello, earlier, ambitious self—what happened?!
Therefore, instead of pulling night shifts on the paper-grading grind, being bogged down with PTA meetings, arguing with parents over best practices for behavior management, getting sick every month by touching the same door handles of 300+ virulent children, and thwarting yet another round of “the penis game,” I, much like Jane leaving Lowood, am packing up my bags for greener (and rainier) pastures.
Moving forward, my curriculum will include many reflective nature walks, leaf pressing, sewing, painting, cultivating table-manners, embroidery, arithmetic, reading in front of a fireplace, and other pleasant activities suitable for encouraging a quiet child that in no way has ever figured prominently in any novel premised on a governess.
If Jane can do it, so can I, and indeed, like Jane, I’ll be spending the majority of my time performing low-key emotional labor for my physically and monetarily well-endowed, depressed landlord, and accidentally — for no-economically-motivated-reason-whatsoever — making him fall in love with me.
Farewell, public school system and all your baggage: the cuts to school funding due to austerity measures, the endless need to strike in order to make a decent living wage and receive benefits like other professions, and the literal constant fear I have for the safety of my students while inside my classroom. This Ms. is subbing out for a Miss, hanging up her values on the importance of public institutions and going as private and for-profit as she possibly can.
Consider this as the equivalent of any governess advertisement of the 19th century, updated for the 21st century as a mashup of both a Tinder and an employee applicant profile. I, a gentle, qualified, modest, overworked, well-turned-out, underpaid, sprightly, and increasingly anxious teacher am offering my services as a governess for any single, handsome, well-endowed dad with a nice fat piece of land (preferably close to some moors) and one or two unspoiled children. My only request (though, I admit this may be paradoxical): no residual colonial skeletons in your closet (or weird hidden bedroom) please.