What wears this parenthropologist down to a mere nub of herself is not a particular class or the sit-down with a student who is flailing or having two letters of recommendation to write or following up on a plea from a colleague to read a research proposal: It is the accumulation of all of the above.
(That was just today. I still also have a research poster to submit on Thursday, a keynote lecture to write for next Friday, a research poster for next month, and a book review for December. Did I mention that I also am supposed to be revising my book manuscript? Which I have not seen since the semester started. Say it with me: I. Am. Fucked.)
In addition, there is the usual preparing and teaching of classes and just having to be "on" all the time. That is, projecting competence and likeability with a touch of humor and humility. Not to mention having to spend time putting on a little make-up in the mormings b/c it turns out to be, what my mother says: Honey, I have reached the age where it starts to matter...
(Not to mention at all Bubbie and Beanie and StraightMan. Sigh.)
So, when I turned on my laptop this evening to check my e-mail - basically to check if any students were having meltdowns over the exam they will be taking tomorrow - this post in The New York Times caught my eye: "Have College Freshmen Changed?
Predictably, the subtitle of the discussion is: "Are 'helicopter' parents making it harder for students to adjust to life on campus?" Which actually means mothers.
The other usual suspect lined against the wall here is technology.
Indeed, I suspect that when / if calling a professor meant having to find a pay phone and a dime, a student might have been forced to consider the mortification that s/he was about to bring onto her/his head by recording a voice mail while crying and complaining from the library that s/he was unable to watch the video (previously shown in a class that s/he had missed, and placed on reserve for her/his benefit...) b/c s/he was having trouble with the DVD players.
(When I reached the part in the message that went something like, "I don't know what you expect me to do," I finally had to erase it. Not that I am saying that anything like this ever occurred.)