The Handmade Card

I have fallen asleep praying for this one little guy in SK. Sometimes I was praying for patience to make it through another class period with him. I have also prayed for a sign that I am in the right profession. I have had classes that have tested my stamina before, and I have never been so frustrated as I have been this year with this one little guy. He didn't get it! It was like he didn't get the concept of school, at all. 

I have gotten mad at him. Multiple times. I have felt terrible for it later. I have reminded myself that he's just a little guy and then his classroom teacher and I tried another intervention: give him his own space, special rewards to earn, special jobs, extra sensorial time, check-in sheets, kitchen timers... Everything has worked a tiny bit, nothing has cured it.  One particularly wackadoo day, he started running in a loop around my room at full tilt. Much like a tornado, anything he connected with on the way around went spinning off into the air. On his last pass, I calmly stuck out my arm and in one motion clotheslined him across his middle and cradled him like a baby. I carried this lanky "baby" to the office. He was never so calm as when we walked down the hall then. Maybe he was stunned. I was stunned. I could feel both our hearts beating. That wasn't the turning point. Each class has just been a different mix of wildly naughty and sort of functioning. 

There's a sub in his classroom right now and today she sent him to the office. He and the principal have developed a rapport this year and were having one of their talks. This is the note the principal left in my office mailbox: 

I'm a little hormonal today, and I burst into tears right there at my office mailbox. How is it possible?? He destroys art supplies, hurts others, screams and yells and shows little sign that he gets what school is about at all, and I love him. And he, apparently, loves me. 

I wonder which figure is me? Maybe neither. In my thinking, he is the one carrying a pile of wadded up baggage and I'm the one greeting him with a heart. Or maybe I'm the one wrestling with the tangle while he looks on, with hearts. We both have open arms. I'll never really know what was in his mind while he drew this.  It certainly looks like these two characters have a relationship, and we do too.

There is an inquiry practice to help unlock our thoughts that asks, "how could this be a good thing?" It's great for when we're turning everything into a calamity. I don't think I ever stopped this year to ask how it's a good thing that this little guy darkened my doorstep week after week.  This coming Monday may be the last time I ever get to see this little guy and though it seems irrational I will think of him often. With him I have begun to understand that I am not perfect and I am not in control. This is making me a better teacher. With him I have had a partner to help guide me through the ugliness and the loose ends and discover a couple more concepts I can release, like School being one thing and Life being another, like Teacher being one person and Student being the other. 

Self Love and The Monsters

J: When there are scary blob monsters in my head I tell them, go away you monsters! I have fun holidays and work to do

T: Or you could just hit them over the head! Like, Bop, you monsters! Get outta here! Bop! Bam!

J: But then you’re hitting your own head.
— J, 3yrs & T, 6yrs. On the way to school


Last week was a mess. If I could do it over, there are lots of things I'd handle more graciously, with more patience, more wisdom. Given the opportunity, I can't say that I'd go back- too crappy. Nothing catastrophic happened, just a series of small, tedious obstacles that snowballed on to the shoulders of two sleep-deprived parents. One parent was also under the influence of hormones. The denouement  arrived on Valentines Day when I discovered I had lice. 

One night during this cavalcade of crappy, I was folding laundry in the basement, sobbing so that I could barely see what I was doing. Being so out of control scared me.  I know I had the thought that this isn't real. What I'm experiencing is built by thoughts, and I still couldn't pull myself out of it.  That moment always feels like forever. I was explaining to a friend that it's similar to being high- an awareness slightly removed from yourself that knows what your body is believing isn't real. The goal isn't to get to a point where you never fall apart, it's knowing that there's nothing to do but remain present. There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home... 

I allow unquestioned beliefs to guide me; that if I don't exercise perfect self-control at all times then I am letting others down, or that this kind of thing doesn't happen to people who are more organized than me. When I'm under the influence of thoughts that disconnect me from reality, I find that I gravitate towards things that fuel those thoughts. I don't eat what I know to be nutritious, I don't drink enough, I stay up too late, I skip daily rituals that remind me of connection. Because One monster storming around in my head calls for more monster friends, because misery loves company. I not only feel bad physically, but beat up on myself for knowing better and not doing better.   Driving to school, my daughter was talking herself through a bad dream she'd had last night. I heard her working out something we've told her about bad dreams and when she spoke it her own way I heard something new: We have the choice to dismiss thoughts or beat ourselves up for having the thoughts, one hurts and one doesn't. After binging on self-pity this past week,  I remembered again that reality is always kinder than our thoughts about it.  I remembered that while I don't have control, I always have choices. We can move on as soon as we make the choice to dismiss the thoughts that don't feel good and reconnect with reality. The goal isn't to rid your mind of monsters, just greet them and move on. 

Treat Yo Self to Self Love

Strep Throat has found our address. I planned to offer a longer thought today and the plans have changed. I am finding that being home with sick kids slows time in a really welcomed way actually. This too shall pass ;) While one nugget naps and the other snuggles on the couch, here are a few fleeting thoughts as we arrive at Valentine's Day. 

Though it's been in the back of my mind and I've been cooking up simple take-it-to-school projects for the kiddos, I haven't come up with what I want to give. The thought occurred to me the other day, while washing dishes, that I really am getting what I'm focusing on. The law of attraction seems to be working! Now to direct my focus... When does a marriage or friendship deteriorate? When we are focusing our attention elsewhere, sometimes all around the perimeter of it, sometimes on what we wish we had/don't have. When does a child's behavior improve? When we focus on the improvements. When does self love grow? When we focus inwardly on those things that are loveable.  

I was listening to Oprah talk to David Brooks, on Super Soul Sunday and she said gift-giving is a love of hers and that it's so easy to give people gifts if you will listen to them- that they'll tell you what they want in snips and snatches every day. Oprah has certainly made a name for herself as a gift-giver, so it bears considering. When I was doing the dishes, I had the thought that I have no idea what I'd tell anyone to get me. What on earth could the thoughtful people in my life have heard me ask for? I got a taste of this the year my husband took my kids Christmas shopping and they each picked out storage baskets for me. Self Love is a muscle like so many other things, it gets stronger with practice and weakens with neglect. If storage baskets don't speak love to me, it's up to me to tune in the right frequency.  If I want people to pick up what I'm putting down, I'd better take the time to know what that is!  SInce the dishes, I have been doing a little experiment and I discovered that I'm way more inspired to give to others when I have first taken the time to think up what gifts I'd give myself. I even made a list! Does that seem terribly selfish? Self-centered? I believe Self Love requires we make peace with this, and in a new way. If we understand that self-centered is the only lens we know, then we relieve ourselves of it being "bad" and then it's OK to operate from the center of Self. At the center of Self, I find that I really love connecting with the people in my life and showing them the love I feel for them. And I have such a wider vocabulary with which to communicate when I focus first on Self Love.  

As nap time comes to a close at our house, I leave you with this awesome clip from one of my favorite shows: