Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grown-up Stuff

A good friend of mine has hit a rough spot in her life. I should probably clarify: a rough spot could mean a rough piece of skin that just needs exfoliating. It's not like that. It's much, much worse.

Through all I have learned this week about her situation, all I can do is just sit here and do nothing. Do nothing except think about her all of the time. She is hurting, and I want to comfort her. But I know at this initial, raw state of hers, there is little comfort to be given and received. She is trying to seek clarity, trying to answer questions that can't be answered, or the answers are just too hard to face. Stein and I have been asking some of the same questions, I'm sure. We're frustrated that they can't be answered and we just want things to be good for her once again. I'm sure my friend feels the same way, only more deeply.

Growing up sucks sometimes. We all have our crosses to bear, as my Catholic upbringing has told me. But sometimes it seems like a tsunami occurs in people's lives. Events that completely wash over them and make it impossible to come up for breath for a long time. In my friend's situation, I feel like I'm watching her being swept away by the tsunami, and I can't help her get to safety. As humans we all have the genetics that make us want to "right" ourselves again, to find a balance, to be safe. We want that for others, especially our friends.

I know in my heart that she will be alright one day. When that is, no one knows. But from where she has come from and the journey she has taken through life and the attitude she has, it will happen. In life's unknowns, I do know she will be alright. I am grasping to this hope, and I want her to know that. As faint as it is right now, there is hope that you will be alright. I know you will.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Going Along Swimmingly

I'll just put it out there and say that things continue to go well. Aside from a little bully talk with some of my boys, for the most part fifth grade is where it's at. We can have pretty mature conversations, while at the same time sing along to Schoolhouse Rock and trade silly bands. Well, I don't have silly bands nor do I trade them. I have a feeling that the silly bands are going to become a bit of a problem in my class. The kids learned a new phrase, "bane of my existence" the other day when I was talking about silly bands. I think they got the message. So far the rule, "if they're not in your pocket or on your wrist, they're mine" has seemed to work. We'll see how long that lasts...

The other thing that I love about these kids is how they play. I try to do at least one recess during the day in addition to the recess they get at lunch. I think that it's so important for kids to get outside, run around, work things out, and just play. It also helps with getting some of their energy out.

Most of the boys play soccer. Most of the girls play four-square, hang on the monkey bars, or play jump rope. Everyone is active. I love it. In some of the other schools where I worked, the fifth graders would just stand around and talk. I used to tell them to run around, but they would look at me like I told them to jump into a lake with alligators.

Kids being kids. Just as is should be. They're lucky.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I Better Knock, Knock, Knock on Wood

School started this week. I had butterflies and knots having some sort of wrestling match in my stomach on the first day. I have to say, the knots won the match that morning. I was downright nervous. (It also didn't help that I was meeting parents in addition to the students that morning.)

Like every other teacher starting school, I had dreams about school every night for about three weeks prior to the first day. I dreamed of faces in a class I didn't know, had nightmares about badly behaved students. I woke up feeling uneasy about the unknowns. My mind was swimming with lessons plans, team-building activities, names, and school supplies.

Tuesday afternoon, after spending a good amount of time with my class, I could tell that everything was going to be okay. The knots decided to leave the wrestling mat that was my stomach. I even cracked a smile, and laughed a little. I felt better.

When I got home that night, my mom was still here. She asked how the day was, and asked if I wanted a glass of wine. I didn't need the wine because it was a bad day, I wanted the wine because I wanted to celebrate a great day. It was so nice to have my mom there to talk about the day. She went through countless first days in her teaching career and could relate to my stories. I'm lucky she was here.

Every night this week when I came home, Stein would ask how the day went. And every night, I replied the same way: "I'm going to knock on wood when I say this, but it was a good day."

I know it's only been a week (actually four days), but I really like my class. The personalities remind me a lot of my third graders last year. I don't have any major behavior problems to deal with yet, and most of them are eager to learn, eager to help out, and eager to please.

I know Mickey is experiencing the same thing with her second-grade class this year. And we're both knocking on wood.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Mom Rocks

I am so lucky. First I switched careers and had my Mom and Mickey to guide me through the whole thing. Then I had long-term jobs that they continued to guide me through. And now that I have my own classroom from start to finish, I have my Mom here to help set it up.

Two weeks ago, I stood in the classroom frozen with a daunting feeling. The previous occupants of the room were not moved out yet, the tables were too small for fifth graders, and we were about to go on vacation. I called Mickey in a panic to help talk me off the ledge. She did. Of course she did. She reminded me that our Mom would be in town the next week and would whip the place into shape.

She was so right. Here I sit on Saturday morning, and my whole classroom is done. I had visions of being in the classroom until midnight before school started, sleeping on the floor, and waking up before the bell rang. I owe it all to my Mom.

She got here on Tuesday night, and by Wednesday afternoon I knew everything was going to be fine. Through 90 degree heat and no A/C, she worked in my room while I attended meetings. We were back on Thursday afternoon, and went back yesterday to finish up. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, she had a plan. Whenever I didn't know what to do with something, she did.

I of course now have the feeling that I'm forgetting something, but I think I'm just being superstitious. The classroom is ready to go. Ready for all of the new fifth graders and the new teacher.

Thanks, Mom!