Friday, December 5, 2014

Be All There

Four out of five days of “indoor recess” (a.k.a. supervised pandemonium) didn’t exactly kick off my holiday season with a smile this week.  Well, that isn’t exactly true- the smile was still there.  And luckily no one else could see the gritted teeth behind the smile, feel the deep breath being inhaled slowly deep down inside or hear me counting to ten in my mind.  Repeatedly.       

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my kids.  But some days they just don’t let up.  I imagine parents feel a more intense version of this constancy, as my chaos at least sticks to a schedule that ends at 3:00.  But these days, the minutes seem to tick a little more slowly as the couple of weeks before winter break loom before us.  This year, I had kids bouncing in the classroom BEFORE Thanksgiving all excited about how they’d already put up their Christmas trees.  Any teacher who is being honest would admit that sometimes you wonder if we’ll all make it to December 20th with our sanity intact. 

With that said, it is hard not to feel a little guilty at the end of the day this time of year.  I often ask myself if I was too snippy with a particular child, if I was prepared enough for a particular lesson after spending the night before working on the church Christmas play instead of lesson plans, or if the kids noticed I was making a Target shopping list during the aforementioned “indoor recess...”  It’s always been very important to me to “be all there” with my students, but this time of year it’s particularly challenging.  Some days, a fake smile, a thrown together lesson, and a “I’ll help you with that another day,” is all I’ve got.

So that’s why a casual afternoon conversation with one of my students today struck me as particularly sweet.  A lot of the kids had already left for the day, but about half a dozen remained, including one of my more mature, quiet girls.  Out of the blue, she asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you like being here?” and as I turned my head and looked to her for clarification she continued, “I mean, teaching, at this school.  Do you like your job?” Immediately I answered, “Yes, I truly do.  I love my job.” She then said, “I can tell.  You’re one of the nicest teachers I’ve ever had.” 

In August or June, this comment might not have struck me as extraordinarily special.  But on a dreary Friday afternoon the first week of December, it brought a genuine smile to my face.  It showed me that (hopefully) despite the snippy comments, unprepared moments, and distracted responses, they get it.  They know I like being there, they know I love my job, they know I love THEM.  Even in December, when they’re a little louder, a little rowdier, and a little harder to rein in…  I DO like being there.

This holiday season, I hope I don’t forget this little lesson.  Despite the chaos, I don’t want to forget where I am and that I LIKE being there, that the people around me and the moments that we’re sharing matter.  My prayer for you this holiday season is that you’ll remember the same. 

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