‘You’re doing it wrong’ – A birthday letter from myself

MISCDear Mary,

Tomorrow is your birthday so if there was ever an appropriate time for your inner monologue to give some more 3D advice, I guess this is it (-That’s me, by the way. I’m your inner monologue. You may not know me very well because your outer monologue is a bit of a conversation hog).

Anyway, it’s nice to touch base once in a while. The fact that you’re listening to Taylor Swift and writing letters to yourself makes me think you probably haven’t changed much since we last talked. The fact that you’re binge-eating your birthday candy right now reinforces that suspicion.

Listen, I don’t know how long you’re going to stay focused before some 3-minute video clip on facebook breaks your concentration, so I’ll get right to this.

It’s time to grow up a little.

Woah there! Don’t get so worked up! That was not an insult or a threat or whatever. But there is a time to be a child and a time to be a “young person” and there’s time to start assuming some basic adult responsibilities and habits (‘now’ being the latter of those times). This isn’t going to be scary. It’s not going to be “lame.” And hopefully it won’t throw you into a 2-month depression where you only listen to Kenny Loggins’ “Pooh Corner” on repeat like you did when you turned 17. (That would have been a good time for me to write you a letter).

All I want to do is offer you some “life suggestions.” Continue reading

Make ’em cry

It's not easy being ten.

It’s not easy being ten.

The bad day. A concept humanity is familiar with both intimately and idealistically. In the course of history, it has borne the brunt of the blame for our short tempers, our lack of focus, our apathy and our overwhelming desires to eat everything within reach.

Sometimes I have bad days and sometimes I just think I am having a bad day. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’ve had one until I get home and wonder why I feel so tired.

There are three things I think we need to keep in mind about these kinds of days.

1. Everyone has bad days – even children.

As students, we often only see our own late homework and failed tests. We only feel our own itches, hear our own stomachs growling and think about our own feelings. As a teacher, you see, feel, hear and think about your entire class from the first day of school to… Well, I’m not sure if it ever goes away.

Today I had to substitute for another teacher so instead of having fourteen fourth graders, I had thirty. Thirty ten-year olds, when you’re not expecting them, are like thirty hungry lions and you’re the piece of meat. But they paw at each other also and today the boys were particularly rowdy – it’s been about 90 degrees all week so no one is in a good mood.

Still, I was surprised to see one of the sweetest, gentlest, nicest boys in class (we’ll call him Vlada) smack someone on the head and a few minutes later shove a punch at his best friend’s jaw. Continue reading

Ugly Mondays

life cant handleI am an expert in the field of Mondays. I know all about them. I’ve lived through a couple real toughies. The thing about Mondays is that it takes us away from our free time and family time. It’s the less than grandiose welcoming of what, for most of us, will be a long week of tough jobs, gas lights, electricity bills, homework, and cooking meals you have no energy to eat let alone prepare. (I lost the battle with my freshman fifteen the minute I realized eating ice cream from the tub demanded significantly less effort than making myself toast or eggs or basically anything that requires more than a spoon*).

*I did eventually get the eating habits under control and now, independently and of my own accord, maintain a mostly balanced diet. Adulthood doesn’t come with one leap – baby steps.

But this last year has been pretty “Monday” free. Maybe this is because I love my job or maybe because the hardest day of the week for me is consistently Thursdays so Mondays are more of a light-weight in the ring.

I was definitely due for a hair-pulling, teeth-grating, hand-wringing, gut-churning Monday. I got one.

Continue reading