Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Couple of Those Lists

January 1 - December 31, 2009:
A Selected List of Things That Happened
  • turned 22 (young, I say!)
  • quit my first post-college full-time job (after eight horrible months)
  • got way better at dancing (everyone asks me at once now)
  • moved within DC (inevitable)
  • went west of St. Louis for the first time (Phoenix, for 30 hours, for an interview)
  • became a waitress (at the slowest restaurant in DC)
  • quit waitressing (by just not showing up anymore)
  •  became a nanny (for the two most spoiled children ever)
  • that was only temporary anyway (a pretty long six weeks while it lasted though)
  • moved out of DC to live in central PA country woods (for two months)
  • tended a pond (and several basil plants)
  • got my first two credit cards (Gap and Capital One)
  • moved out of PA to PGC, MD (sacrifices!)
  • learned how to be a teacher (in a rather intense summer institute fashion)
  • lost ten pounds while not eating (during said summer)
  • reconnected with old friends (lost others)
  • got engaged to the love of my life (and officially gained a future family)
  • co-taught 31 delightful fourth-graders (and formed many opinions on children, teaching, parenting, and the world today)
  • got my first hate memo written on a desk (only took it personally for five minutes, was impressed with my own resilience)
  • received and treasured my mini pumpkin, fun size Snickers bar, paper cutout picture and foam sticker winter scene (children's gifts are beyond words)
  • toured Boston (made our own memories)
Lived and laughed, hugged and cried.  Loved.  Lost a lot, too.  Isn't that how it goes.

January 1 - December 31, 2010:
A Selected List of Things That Will Happen
  • turn 23
  • start at a new elementary school
  • move closer to new elementary school
  • marry
  • go to the dentist
  • update glasses
  • work on myself
  • nurture existing relationships
  • foster new ones
  • apologize less
  • laugh more

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

You're Not Special

Let me tell you about something I hate.  Something that comes up on an unfortunately regular basis.  I hate when people say things about themselves that they think are incredibly unique but that actually are quite universal.  For example, facebook interests.  What?!!  You like hanging out with friends!?  You're into shopping and spending time with your family?!  Don't even tell me - I cannot believe you like to just chill out sometimes.  You have got to be joking.  That is WILD!  I totally hate just chilling out!  I also hate spending time with friends and family!  It also comes up in terms of learning styles.  You're a -- a -- visual learner?  It helps you to SEE something when you learn it?  That is the most absurd thing I've ever heard!  You must be the only person on the planet!  Wait a minute - you find it hard to concentrate on something that doesn't interest you?  Outrageous!  Unparalleled!  Someone also told me recently that music calms her, that she has to listen to music to stay sane.  Now.  I think we can all agree that music is pleasant and can go all the way up to necessary.  For most, if not all, of us.  To tell me that as if it's inconceivable, as if you and you alone discovered music's calming effects, fills me with terrible rage. 

It angers me when people tout these facts and qualities about themselves AS IF they are the first.  Sharing those facts and qualities are fine.  But you have to do it in such a way that acknowledges the commonality, the naturalness, of your fact or quality.  Not in that GET THIS I AM ONE OF A KIND way.  Because you are not.  You, my friend, are not special.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Yelling v. Partying

That's an exaggeration.  But only kind of.  In wondering what I want to do with the rest of my 40+ years in the workforce, I often think about the  amount of strictness vs. friendliness I would demonstrate in that particular occupation.  In terms of past experiences in the workforce, Brickton Art Center and Woodlawn Nursery School were obviously much more on the friendly, casual, open side; running psych experiments and teaching fourth grade have been, also obviously, on the stricter, more orderly side of the balance.  Of course it has to do with the fact that I'm not coaching art projects using dozens of supplies, nor am I chilling with them in before or after school care.  I (try to) teach them.  And that necessitates a firmer, stricter, no-nonsense approach than the previous two, which I both appreciate and resent.  I'm not going to go into an "I-care-too-much" speech, because it's not that, it's really that part of me would rather just color and talk to them.  The authoritarian half of me, however, is dead-set that these children learn the intricate, hard-and-fast rules of comma placement.  I'm pretty sure you can't do both well. 

That being said, I bet you can imagine that much of the time, I'm giving directions, rules, explaining concepts, disciplining.  I do so somewhat sternly.  But every now and then I get goofy and draw faces on my antibodies in my diagram on the visualizer, or speech bubbles that say zzzzzzz on top of a projected picture of dormant seeds.  I try to give permission for water or to go to the bathroom most of the time, and only say no when there's a good reason (ie, they really need to hear such and such an explanation).  I try to talk at their level, that is, not down to them, and not in an impersonal drone over them, but as adults.  I try to connect with them, when I can and when it's appropriate.  A couple of them started singing "Down" and I told them I loved that song, but only after school.  I also land on those who skip around the classroom, and in doing so, part of me appreciates that aspect of rule and order, and part of me feels like I'm stifling personality and creativity.  But I try, in my delivery, to convey something more than a heartless STOP IT and more of a Come on, now, really?, you know better, you can't do that here.  But when enough of those don't work, the heartless STOP IT becomes more necessary. 

That being said, I bet you can imagine that I absolutely melt when something catches me off that guard.  Anyone who's ever even heard of me, let alone met me, knows that I live off hugs.  Believe it or not, I try not to let the fourth-graders hug me.  I couldn't start my day without hugs from my nursery kids, but here, they're too old to be hugging their teacher good morning.  So, I'll high-five them for doing all their homework or something, but no hugs.  Except, you know, if they JUST got that light bulb about long division or got 100 on that test they studied super-hard for.  Or if they give me something, especially something they made.  Since the beginning of the year, I've gotten a mini pumpkin with an index card telling me I was the best, a fun-size Snickers bar (left over after Halloween, but it still produced the same effect), a little winter scene made out of foam stickers, and a square with a smiling sun on top of a heart made out of recycled scraps in art class.  Then, in any of those situations, I tear up and if they hug me, I hug right back.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Back! Maybe.

My Christmas Wish Yankee Candle is delicious. Pandora just felt bad after I gave its last three choices either a skip or a thumbs-down, so it scrounged up a thumbs-up for me. I love when it does that. I cannot believe this candle-topper. This dome protects the candle from all that soot accumulation, lengthens the burning time, and makes the candle burn evenly around instead of a hole straight down. I feel like my life is more complete with this purchase. I took it off, just to see, and the poor flame flickered everywhere, unused to the draft. Sorry! I put it back. That's a metaphor for something. A lot of things, probably. Too bad the topper itself is of pumpkins and scarecrows. I keep trying to not see them, but boy are they ever there. That's a metaphor for something else too.

ps, I can't believe I forgot about Pandora. Never again.