Sunday, September 25, 2016

31 Days of Small: Introduction

My life is noisy.  

I'm a music teacher by trade and a mom of girls who inherited my (and my husband's) love of song.  Some evenings we'll turn music on to sing and dance before bed.  We will pause to listen to a great chord progression or sing poignant lyrics with the most dramatic faces.  Our eldest will sometimes cringe at our song choices, but I usually catch her head keeping time with the songs from my teenage and college years.  She can't help it--a good song is a good song.  I play my favorite Christmas songs all year long while cooking and swaying in the kitchen because there's something ethereal about it all.  I hold my youngest and we twirl around in the living room like we're at the ball because we believe in the magic of the moment.

And sometimes the noise in my life comes from things that aren't noisy at all.

An overwhelmed personal planner of things to do.

Work and church and extracurricular activities and cooking and cleaning and laundry and meetings and stuff.

Family and friends and coworkers and parents and children.

Social media and inboxes and news and more information than I can sort through most days.

Visual clutter and stimulus and maintenance.

It builds and builds until I start to physically hear it as well.  The constant white noise of a busy life.  The voices that remind me of everything I still need to do and all the things I've never done well and a long list of my failures.

I shut the music off in the car on the way home from school because I can't stand to listen to one more thing while my girls chatter on about their days.  I sometimes find myself feeling like I can't breathe because I don't have the mental capacity to handle it in addition to everything else.  

It's as if the world has suddenly become too loud and I'm not enough to be heard.

I feel tired.  
I feel less than.  

I feel small. 

to be continued (on October 1st) . . .   

Saturday, September 10, 2016

31 Days of Being Small (October 2016).

He had been a terror in my classroom.  

He was defiant and mean.  He wouldn't get up to collect his class materials.  He was bigger than most of his classmates--a tangle of arms and legs slung all over his chair and the two next to him.  He interrupted me over and over again.  He was angry and surly, and he had a huge chip on his shoulder.  I'm not sure what happened to made him so mad at me and the rest of the world, but you could see it all over him.

His class was almost ready to line up, and I was ready for him to leave.  

Some teachers like to think it's nice to be a special area teacher because we only deal with their behavior problems once a week (when they have to deal with them every single day).  I always like to remind them that we deal with every other teacher's behavior problems the rest of the week, so it all works out.  I'd like to say that all of my students are sweet and kind and wonderful and that I miss them when they go--but that would not be the complete truth.  There are some students who are just plain difficult, and I often feel like Chris Pratt when I work with them.

He stormed out with the rest of his class and I took some deep breaths, straightened the furniture that he had kindly rearranged without my permission, and readied myself and my materials for the next group of students.  The beginning of each school year is hard, especially when we are getting used to the students who are new to the school.  My school has two grade levels, so every single year we turnover half of our student population.  250+ new students that we have to meet and figure out how to love on in order to get them to at least cooperate and maybe, just maybe, learn something in the process.

I was nearly ready for the next class when I heard a small child's voice crying in my hallway.  It sounded so sad and little--and the way the voice rose and fell it reminded me of my littlest girl when she is deeply sad.  This wasn't the angry cry of a temper tantrum, and it didn't sound like the typical cry of our students.  It sounded a lot like a heartbroken toddler.

It took me a few seconds to recognize that it was the same little boy who had been so big and tough in my classroom just moments before.  The same one who was so rude, was now completely broken down in the hallway.  It was the cry of the child who carried some baggage.  It was the cry of a child who only knew how to act tough until it was safe to let the tears fall.  It was the cry of the child who refused to acknowledge his weakness.  He had been stripped of all of his tough exterior and was exposed in the safety of the hallway.

And he was just another second grade boy--feeling small and in great need of some love. 

I feel that way sometimes.  
And I bet you do, too.  

I've carried this word "small" in my heart for months.  It's the Whisper I hear sometimes when my world feels crazy.  It's in the quiet moments that are only mine.  It's the pleading in my prayers when I recognize that I can't do it all on my own.  Sometimes the world wants us to believe that being small is bad--but isn't it ok to admit that we are all, in fact, very small?

I hope you will join me in October for my next 31 Days challenge.  

Happy weekend, friends. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Because going back to school is a little scary for the teachers, too.

On Monday, all of the teachers in my county will head back to work after a nice summer vacation.  Some of us have already been inside of our classrooms and have dealt with some of the work that needs to be managed, while others are waiting until Monday morning to deal with the inevitable.  

Small space and wondering how in the world it's all going to come together.
We've had some time away from these rooms, and we're gearing up for the return to routines and schedules and crazy.  Most of us have spent some time working through lesson ideas and writing things down to remember in the coming year.  We've applied for grants and purchased things on sale. We've made stuff for our rooms, and we've Pinned away.  

We're excited about the fresh start.  We're excited about new supplies and new faces.  We're ready to see our favorite co-workers and catch up over lunch in public (because that's not happening again until the next teacher workday).  We are shiny and well-scrubbed and maybe even have some new clothes to help transition.  We're suntanned and rested.  We sleep in and stay up late doing things we want to do when we want to do them.  And we love the start of each year because it's all so new again and we tell ourselves that this is the year we're going to do things even better than before. 

But, we're also churning with nerves. 

There's a part of us not ready to face the new year.  We've finally crawled out of the insanity of the previous school year and feel like humans again.  We are not ready for the bladder abuse and exhaustion.  We have new curriculums and things we have to teach and it makes us doubt our abilities.  We wonder if we're going to have another encounter with that parent and we pray the younger siblings end up on someone else's roster.  We want those coworkers to like us and we want to get along.  We want to rise above and run away from the drama that seems to circulate a mostly-female environment.  We are having our own babies and we've recently lost loved ones.  We have our own children and we know that for the next 10 months we will spend more time with our non-biological kids and we have major mama guilt.  We haven't slept well since the beginning of August and we have nightmares.  

This weekend we will want to live it up, but in the back of our minds we have anxiety as we approach Monday morning.  It's like sitting at the top of the roller coaster those precious seconds before we're sent rushing down the track on the first big drop.  Our minds are running in a million different directions, and most of us have had at least one minor breakdown.  Even though we've done this many, many, many times--we still get a little nervous before the beginning of each year.  

Because we know what it entails--and it's not for the faint of heart.  

We know that we're about to give away our hearts and souls for the next 10 months.  We know that there are little people who desperately need some love and attention, and they are going to take, take, take from us and even though they make us lose our sanity, we will fiercely defend and do everything we can to protect them from any and all verbal, mental, emotional, and physical harm.  We will have our hearts brimming with love, and we will have our hearts broken.  We know there are grownups who are going to test our patience and are going to make us feel like we can't do anything correctly.  We know that we are going to return home completely spent and unable to function on all cylinders in the evenings because we've given it all away during the day--even though we try our hardest to avoid this each and every year.  We know that there are days we will win, and there will be days we want to throw in the towel because we can't get it together.  We will laugh until our stomachs hurt and we will ugly cry.  We will be so proud of our students when they finally get it, and we will bang our heads on the walls when we've run out of strategies.  We will Hunger Games whistle (do-me-re-sol), and we will depend on other grownups for solidarity.  

And in June, we will smile because we've made it again.  

    Let's do this, teacher friends. xoxxo


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