I like harmony. I like bass lines. I like the elements of music that aren't always noticeable, unless they're absent. I love singing in the car, and I'll harmonize anything. Not that I can sing. Well, I'm not very good at carrying a melody, anyway. But I like to think my harmony ain't all that bad. And tonight, while cruising up to class for teacher-school, I'll be singing loudly in my car to the likes of the Chili Peppers' "By the Way" or something, anything, from the Animals or the Kinks.
I had a moment of panic last week when I realized--like, actually admitted to myself--that my cherished "free" Friday nights and Saturdays are a thing of the past until next spring. But, feeling my stomach tighten while looking that far ahead, I told Ian that I have only one way of looking at it if I want to stay sane: "My class time is still my time. And my downtime will be...well...Wednesday nights." Or Sundays. Or whenever I can squeeze it in. I'll still get in my requisite quiet time for nail polish, magazines and card games with the kids. I'll still get my walks and time to do yoga and hula hoop. I may even get some sewing or other craftiness done. I just won't be doing as much of those things, and that will take some getting used to--no matter how happy I am to be in school.
And am I ever happy. Last week's experience shadowing one of New Haven's magnet high schools was one of the best days I've ever had. It also made coming back to the office on Monday very, very hard. The kids I met last Friday were a riot. They were sassy, smart and dying to be heard. The rapport my friend, the teacher I shadowed, has with them is admirable and inspirational. It's also essential if she wants to get through to some of these kids, many of whom had some rough experiences and/or stories from their neighborhoods to relate to some of the moral themes found in Ethan Frome, which they had just begun reading.
I like middle schoolers, too. But I think I'm leaning towards high school as my preferred teaching gig. Really, I just want a job when I'm done with my certification. But if I had to choose, high school--preferrably one in New Haven--would be it.
Until then, I've got a lot of driving to do up to Hartford and back every weekend. Up and back, up and back, Friday nights and Saturdays. I have friends I can stay with in the area if the weather is bad, but most of the time I'd rather make the 45 minute drive home on Friday nights, to my own warm bed and snuggly dogs, for a short sleep before being back up and sitting in class by 8AM Saturdays. My biggest challenge on Friday nights will be to drive at a reasonable speed to get home and go to bed. I can be a leadfoot on the highway, especially on stretches of 91 that are wide open and mostly empty. But in the interest of getting home to my children (and to my life) in one piece, I think I'll keep it around 75. I guess there are reasons beyond gas mileage and car taxes why Ian doesn't encourage me to ever get an A6, 5 series or C-class. Those aren't teacher cars anyway. Subarus, though? Yeah, I fit right in with one of those.
I'm so psyched for this chapter of my life. I'm so grateful that Ian is so supportive and willing to pick up an awful lot of slack while I commit to this program for the next seven months. And I'm extra grateful for my children, who always inspire me to think outside of myself.
Case in point: Sean has struggled in the past year or so with acceptance of his food allergies. He has had several crying jags over the fact that they suck, and who can blame him? They do suck. But they are still manageable. Then, this past week at bedtime--the time of day when the kids always slay me with their insight and sweetness--Sean said, "I've decided my food allergies aren't really a problem. As long as I'm careful, it's like they're not even there. Some people aren't as lucky as that with stuff they have to deal with."
My little almost-10-year-old! So wise! So empathetic! And so addicted, like I am, to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. There is very little "reality" TV that we watch in our house (unless baseball, AFV and Antiques Roadshow count), but that show is one me and the boys love. "Oh, no! Mommy's gonna cry again!" they say when we sit down to every episode. While watching that show, I think Sean has seen so many families facing real challenges that it put his allergies into perspective for him. Whatever the inspiration, I am grateful for it. I am grateful to him. And to Nolan. For being them. For always reminding me to slow down, savor, notice and change perspective--or even change course--in order to find my way, our way, and maybe even help others along the way.