Wish I Would Have Read Nancie’s Advice Before I Peed My Pants

I really wish I had read Nancie Atwell’s advice to people considering the teaching profession before I peed in my pants.

I have an amazing bladder.

It’s a teacher’s bladder.

On most days I can wait to pee until early evening.  (I know my teacher friends will understand this.)

It wasn’t always this way, though.

I sat with some friends in a book club tonight and one of them remarked, “Did you see what Nancie Atwell said about how she wouldn’t advise others considering teaching to go into the profession?”

At first I couldn’t believe that she came out and said this, but before you know it, my friends and I started laughing about how crazy this profession can be as we shared teaching stories that only other teachers can relate to.

My friend explained she had spent the day learning how to use her power and computer cords as a weapon, if needed, against potential intruders.  The other friend explained how she watched as her boss and co-workers tried to get a kid refusing to do his work to return to his classroom.  Our stories seemed to crazy to be real.  We laughed imagining inviting others from outside professions to lunch while we simultaneously ate and had cafeteria duty.  We pictured interrupted conversations while we reminded our students of the expectations in the 8th month of the school year.  The laughter erupted as we mentioned the meals we had to scarf down in front of our students because we didn’t get our lunch break. And we all agreed that we had developed superhuman bladders.

That’s when I remembered when I peed in my pants.  In my classroom!

It was my first year of teaching. I worked even more than I do know (if that’s possible), and I often stayed after school until the wee hours prepping for the next day.  Most days I brought a change of clothes so I could get more comfortable while I worked late in my room.

That particular day I put off using the restroom after school for even longer than normal.  I was in the zone with my work, and I kept dismissing my urge to pee (and change into comfy clothes).  I sort of did a toddler dance around my room so I could get just one more stack of papers organized before succumbing to my bladder.  Finally, I decided I would have to cave.  I couldn’t hold it anymore; it was probably after 6:30 after all.

Although I made the decision to go and started toward the bathroom, I think my brain had already told my body that it was time to go.

Keep in mind that the bathroom was only a stone’s throw away from my classroom.  Unfortunately, that was just too far on that early fall day, when my bladder was not what it is now.  I rushed quicker across the hall to the little girls’ room as I could feel the sensation of my pee already trickling out.  At that point, it was a lost cause; I peed in my pants somewhere between my classroom and the restroom.  I couldn’t believe this just happened.  I looked around and thankfully no one else was in sight.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I changed my clothes and continued working.

My friends always tell me about their young children and how they have to be potty trained and cannot have more than a certain number of accidents in order to make it into and stay in the older room.  I’m proud to say that I haven’t had any accidents since my first year!

I know Nancie’s comments were more geared toward problems with over-testing our students (not teachers peeing in their pants), but I can’t help but laugh at the little quirks of my job that most other professions won’t understand.  Despite the challenges our profession is facing, I can’t imagine doing anything else, even if I have to do my little toddler dance as I dash to the restroom each day.

Fellow teachers, we need to make a reality show to help others see a glimpse into our crazy days.

Eggs and Steak

I’ve decided to start focusing on myself more.  Making myself the best version of me.  I talk about this A LOT, but it seems as though I don’t do much to get there.  I know many things I should be doing: yoga, meditating, going to church, etc.  I’ve read tons of books on the key to happiness and finding yourself, but I continue to stay stuck, expecting a change without changing anything.  I’m pretty sure they say this is the definition of insanity.

The problem is, though, that I’m scared to work on myself.  Scared of what I might find out or that something I’m doing won’t match what I decide I want.  I avoid writing, because I’m scared of what I might “say.”  (This is obviously strange, unhealthy, and not normal, but I think the first step is noticing this.)

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Starting my Search

So, I’m starting small.  I’m trying to think about what I want, and I’ve decided that I want to be the type of person who makes an amazing breakfast (eggs specifically) and a really good steak. (I realize I’m not getting too deep here, but I’m just getting my feet wet with the whole figuring myself out thing.)

I want people to wake up at my house and pray I’m cooking in the morning.  Sure, I’ve made eggs before, but they aren’t overly exceptional.  As far as the steak goes, I just think it would be cool to be able to cook an amazing steak.

In my quest to find myself, I’m declaring tomorrow my first egg cooking day.  I even have a whole carton in case I mess up.  Today I’m devoting to my online search for the perfect way to cook scrambled eggs (clearly I’m on spring break, or I wouldn’t have time to think about this).

I’m declaring it now – by 2016, I will make an amazing breakfast and steak dinner!  If you are hungry, please don’t come by for food before then. 🙂

There is obviously more to face than just my cooking, but I have to start somewhere.

Gentle Reminders from a Fridge Magnet

Yesterday I received an invitation in the mail from my step-dad’s new wife.  Yes, I said that correctly.  I have one of those families.  We aren’t quite Jerry Springer worthy, but there have definitely been some interesting turns.  I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the inside:

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Your New Brother is Getting Married!

Until I got this save the date, I had forgotten about my new brother.  If you would have asked me, I would have probably not even remembered his name.  I think I might have remembered it started with a “C” sound.  Chris, Conner, Charlie?

His name is Cody. (I now know this thanks to his save the date fridge magnet.)

My “brother’s” wedding invite was a nice reminder, and I couldn’t help but smile as I stuck the wedding save the date magnet to my fridge.  God has a plan.  It is not always what we pictured or thought we wanted.  It’s almost always better.

As my own future seems uncertain, it was nice being reminded that it all works out.  Sometimes the journey is painful and confusing, but I have to believe that He has my back.

I wish the magnet included the other brother (there’s a 2nd one);  I really have no clue what his name is.

Trying What I’m Asking My Kids to Do

I hate when I realize that I’ve asked my kids to do something that I’m not sure I could do myself.  We’ve been writing a lot lately, and we are making some signs of improvement.  However, we can’t seem to dig deeper and share a story that’s meaningful.  I’ve asked them to answer: What makes me, me?

It sounds simple enough I thought.  I’ve given them plenty of Kelly G. type writing opportunities and we’ve generated tons of ideas.  I’ve left the last couple days not sure why they can’t stretch what they’ve done up to this point to start quality narratives.

I swore I’d never make them do anything that I wouldn’t be willing to join them on: reading 30 books, blogging (I need to step it up here), and any writing assignment.  So, as I sat tonight wondering how to alter my surefire plans to get them to do narratives (the ones I planned on Sunday that I was sure would do the trick), I realized I didn’t even know how to do this assignment.  I’m going to be ***cough, cough 30 something (today, actually), and I don’t even know something important to me.  Sure, I modeled tons of options that I could choose from in front of them.  However, I felt like a phony as I did it.  I knew I didn’t really care about any of those writing ideas.  Or, at least none of them were really things that defined me or made me who I am.

As I laid in bed tonight, I started thinking back to my childhood (where we generally develop into who we become, but also a great place I usually start so kids can relate to things I experienced when I was their age).  My first thoughts immediately went to parent arguments, me trying to keep the peace and tip toe around them, and my love of sports and basketball.  It’s far from perfect, but I think I finally have a draft (or a start) that means something to me.  I hope this will help them tomorrow.

What makes me, me?

Rough Draft

I remember wanting most to make the fighting stop.  I thought I could abate the arguments if I did things that would make them happy.  So, my perfectionism started.  I wanted the “perfect” grades and tried to exhibit the “perfect” behavior.  I thought if I made them proud, there would be less to fight about.

I walked around on pins and needles trying to be this perfect doll that calculated every move to try to not let down her parents.  Things only intensified though as I got older and got to choose.  This gave my parents a whole new set of arguments.

“It’s up to you who you want to spend your weekend with,” my mom said with a _______(need a word here) tone.

Yeah, right I thought to myself.  Torn between making my mom mad and my dad feel left out, I always seemed to get the short end of the stick; there didn’t seem to be a good choice.

Since I only spent every other weekend with my dad, this became fun time.  I longed for this time, which I’m sure only made my mom even angrier.

“I can’t believe you take her to all those basketball games,” my mom said condescendingly to my dad.

Looking back I’m sure my dad had no idea what to do to entertain a little girl.  So, he just brought me along like I was one of the guys.  He took me to every home Billikens basketball game.  It became our weekly “date.”

I’m not sure if I loved it at first as much as he did, but I know I loved spending time with him.  I loved that the game seemed like it was ours.  He would talk to me about the play by play and gently explain the rules.  I wanted to be nowhere other than in the stands with my dad.

I remember looking up at the time clock and calculating in my head just how long was left to play.  In addition to the time projected, I figured how much longer the game would likely last, factoring in timeouts.  I wanted to freeze time and forever be at the game.

Maybe it’s because it was time with my dad, or maybe because I started to love the game.

What started out as a way to please my dad or find a way to spend time with him became a true obsession.  As soon as fall rolls around (once football starts really), I can’t wait for basketball to begin.

(It’s far from perfect.  I need a way to connect perfectionism and extend the ending.)

Unexpected Change of Plans

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I wasn’t expecting to spend the night in Chicago.  After spending hours on a plane sitting idle  in Chicago on our way to Shanghai, they f canceled the flight due to maintenance issues.  They weren’t able to find another flight out until tomorrow.  While I’m glad I wasn’t flying on a messed up plane, I’m disappointed to not be on my way to Shanghai.

My friend and I have tried to remain patient.  We realized there was nothing we could do to change anything, so there’s no use in complaining.  Ugh, but it is definitely frustrating.  Carrying 2, 50 lb. bags plus carry-ons is not easy.

We’ve gotten a little taste of what the experience will be like just from the flight (sort of flight, by sitting on the runway for 3 hours).  There’s a definite language barrier, even with people who speak english.  I found myself just nodding and smiling to the man who was trying to tell me something.  I feel like I’m going to feel deaf and blind on this trip.  It’s going to be a challenge to communicate.  My little phrase book probably isn’t going to cut it.

I’m hoping tomorrow is a little more productive.  We did have a chance to eat at the food court with our vouchers from the airline.  Chinese seemed to be the best option.  I laughed and said it was an opportunity for me to perfect my chopstick skills.

Here’s hoping that tomorrow we make it there.

 

 

I Entrusted My Life to a $20 Piece of Metal

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It seems pretty stupid now in hindsight, but I had a Carrie Bradshaw moment last week.  Who knew you needed to backup your backup (apparently everyone but me)!  Ugh- hard lesson learned.

Last Wednesday was my last day of school.  I was finishing cleaning out my room and preparing to check out with the Vice Principal. There was a laundry list of to dos mostly required by the school that I was hacking away at.  On my personal list was cleaning up my computer and making sure to copy all of my files to a jump drive before I had to turn it in.

That morning I couldn’t find my new jump drive I had just gotten, so I gathered some of my old drives: the one that has all my most important documents and an older one from when I was student teaching.  I assumed between the two of them they could hold what was on my laptop before I had to turn it in.

One thing I did this year was create several videos to flip my classroom.  This definition of flipping classrooms is being used differently everywhere, but in schools with behavior issues- it basically means taping yourself so there’s another teacher in the room (you).  This way you can walk around and make sure the kids are doing what you are asking them to do in the video.  Some days this was my only saving grace.

Anyway, these videos take up a lot of storage, so I kept getting an error that said that my jump drive was too full.  I remembered last year when I copied files onto my jump drive when I left my last school for some reason files copied twice.  So, I thought if I went through and deleted the duplicates of everything it might clear more space for what I wanted to save now.

It was a nice trip down memory lane as I went through these files and deleted what was there twice. I reminisced over past lessons and even commented, “Wow, there’s some really great stuff on here.”

Due to my organization (I can never remember what I title anything) I can’t always easily access my files, but they were there.  Four years of work and all my most important teaching documents and letters of recommendation.

After deleting the duplicate of many files, I tried to drop a file from my computer into my jump drive again.  Ugh- it was still too full.  I quickly clicked ok to something that popped up and pulled, let’s be honest- ripped, my jump drive out.  (This was my first mistake- no, I don’t ever press the eject safely button.)

I quickly grabbed my other older jump drive and was ready to try to make the files fit on there.  When I couldn’t remember what I had saved on my first drive, I put it back into my computer to check and NOTHING.  My heart starting pounding a little faster, and looking back I knew something was wrong.  A pop up said- your file has been corrupted and is unreadable.  What?!  My friend assured me it was fine and to try to bring up my documents on her computer.

So, I tried to stay calm and gently (now I decide to be gentle) inserted the jump drive into the left side of her laptop.  I released my hand and just stared at this little piece that stored all of my hard work I had seen just moments ago.  The drive flashed very faintly like it was giving its last breath, but nothing appeared.

It was gone.

Frantic, I called my mom’s friend who is very tech savvy and hoped she’d have some solution/trick to make my work come back.  She helped me stay calm and walked me through some scenarios of things to try.  When none of those worked, she gently told me it might be the end of my jump drive.  She even told me some crazy stat on how many jump drives are made in seconds in some foreign country.

At that moment I realized how stupid it was that I hadn’t saved this all somewhere else.  It was all on this dinky jump drive that she just told me was a piece of crap.

“You don’t have it backed up?” She asked.

“NO, I don’t do stuff like that.  I didn’t even know I needed to do that.” I could barely hold tears in, and she kindly suggested I take it to a computer geek to see if they could help retrieve anything.

My principal sensed my frustration/urgency when she saw my face a few moments later.  I think I looked like I had seen a ghost.  She immediately put me through to an IT person in the district.  He proceeded to say it sounded like I might need some lessons on using computers and jump drives.

It took everything in me not to snap at this poor man who was trying to help.  Yes, he was right.  But it was too soon for me to hear a lecture.  “Sir, you are right, but I can’t think about that right now.”  I told him and tried to remain professional.

He asked me to take my computer to one of his technicians with my jump drive to see if there was anything they could do.  He reminded me that it wasn’t likely that there was anything left.

I was still hopeful, desperate really, so I drove right to the IT department and begged the computer guy to see if there was anything he could do.

He didn’t seem optimistic, but he said he’d try.  He didn’t call me for over a day, so I kept telling myself that no news was good news.  He finally called and said it was in fact all GONE.  There was no longer anything on the jump drive.

At that point, I already knew.  I had slowly been preparing myself for the worst.

I keep trying not to think of what I’ve lost.  A few times a document comes to mind and my heart sort of slows, and I feel a tightening in my chest. Some things I might be able to retrieve from emails or my actual desktop, but  whatever else is on there, I pray I don’t remember.

I’m shopping for an external hard drive to avoid this nightmare again.  Take a lesson from me and backup your files or get a more foolproof method than my $20 jump drive I somehow thought would stand the test of time.

I Can’t Believe It’s Been Over a Month

Wow, I just logged on after a very dry spell.  I can’t sleep this morning, so I’ve been perusing the web and checking out my blogger friends’ recent posts.  I didn’t realize how much I have missed them and am sad I feel like I’ve missed out on sharing in their celebrations and weekly updates.

I’m not sure why I haven’t written.  I think I’ve actually started a few posts, but then I got distracted.  Life has been crazy this last month.  I got my back checked out after having persisting pain several weeks after my accident.  It turns out I have some damage from the impact of being hit, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the chiropractor.

I had no idea backs/necks were this complex.  On Mother’s Day weekend I could barely sit without crying, so I knew I had to do something.  I assumed I would just go and get popped back into place and that would be that.  Ha- I’ve spent pretty much the past month there.  I’m finally feeling back to normal on most days.  I love the doctor and his staff.  They are very welcoming, but I didn’t pick the most convenient location to my house (again because I thought I’d only go once).  My commute and visit take about an extra 2 hours each time I go.

At first it was 4 times a week.  Thank goodness it was the end of the school year.  Now I’m down to 3 visits a week (yay- making progress).  At first it wasn’t so bad, they adjust me (weird machine tapping on my back), and then I lay on a bed that rolls down my spine.  It’s pretty relaxing, and I sometimes even fall asleep.  But after the first few visits they made me start doing neck and back exercises too- ugh!  I don’t like that part, but I think it’s making me better.

School just got out the middle of last week, so it feels like summer hasn’t started and I haven’t stopped.  I’ve been busy getting ready for China and trying to get my paperwork and everything in order for my new job.

I enjoyed reading the celebrations on other blogs, and it was nice being reminded to slow down and reflect on all the things I have to celebrate:

  • All Write is this week!  I’m beyond excited to connect and learn.
  • I’m stopping off at an old friend’s house on the way to All Write.  It will be great to catch up.
  • I finally got my car back after a month and a half with a rental. (I will post pictures of my rental later.  It was the smallest car I’ve ever seen, and it made me laugh every time I saw it.)
  • China is so close, and I’m almost ready.
  • I’ve set up skype and viber accounts, so I can communicate with my family while I’m away.
  • I had a wonderful father’s day with my dad and family.
  • My former students and sister came over to help me organize my classroom library and put my books into an online checkout system.  We did 800 books in one day, but there are still more to go.  We made great progress, and my sister spent the night to finish the rest of the library today.
  • I’ve never been this on top of things and productive.  I’m a little overwhelmed, but I’ve been breaking tasks down into smaller parts and getting things done.

M6J/MJ6????…I’m Definitely Not Detective Material

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M6J, remember M6J.  Ahh!  Was it M6J or MJ6? Crap.  What was it?  Ugh, he’s gone!

These letters were mixing themselves quickly in my head as I tried frantically to make sense of what just happened.

Yesterday, I was driving home when a force from behind shot me forward toward my dashboard.  The loud popping sound confused me.  I looked ahead unclear of what just happened.  The other cars were several feet ahead, so I didn’t think I hit anyone?

I sat for a moment dazed until  I slowly turned around to see a car smashed into my rear, right side.

“Oh my gosh!” I yelled.  (I’m betting I yelled something a little less ladylike, but you get the idea.)

I looked at the gentleman, and I noticed he appeared to be moving over to the right.

How smart, I thought.  This way we won’t block traffic.  I started to try to drive my car and follow him to safety.  It scraped and struggled to make it over just two lanes to the shoulder.  This slow speed and slight movement seemed to take every bit of effort, and it felt like my wheels were both popped and about to fly off.

As I edged to the shoulder, I guess my driver saw this as the perfect getaway.  He veered his car back toward the center lane and sped away.

He fled the scene!!!!!!!

I couldn’t even believe my eyes.  I honked hysterically and pointed and screamed as he got away.  “NOOOOO!”

I scrambled to make out the letters of his plate, MJ6, M6J??? But, just like that, he picked up speed and was gone.

If I thought my car would have made it, I honestly think I would have chased after him.

When help arrived, they of course asked me details of the missing driver.  I tried to rattle off what I remembered.  The more I told the story, the less confident I was with any of the information.  I laughed thinking they’ll somehow find the driver, and he’ll end up being in a red SUV that I swore was a tan sedan.

Luckily it looks like he hit me so hard that his license is partially imprinted in my bumper.  The police are hopeful with some finger print dust or some type of light that they might be able to make out the plate information.

I’m optimistic they’ll find the guy.  However, I’m not sure my vague details will be what helps them find him.

Memories – Running Minds

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I spent some time with my grandma this weekend and have been haunted ever since by her fading memory.  She confused everything from mundane details about the day, our lives, and she even mistook my 14 year-old sister for me.  She kept asking her about her new job.  My sister had to remind her gently that she is only a freshman in high school and doesn’t work.

It’s weird how the mind works.  I’m not nearly as forgetful as my grandma, but I wish I could control my mind too.  I wouldn’t mind “forgetting” some unhealthy thinking.

I’ve been reminded of how unhealthy my thoughts are after my high wore off from my new job.  After a short stint on cloud nine, I immediately started thinking negative things like- what if I’m not good enough?  Maybe 7th graders will hate me, or maybe I won’t like them.  I can’t do this job.

My rational self knows this is all ridiculous, but I can’t seem to separate thoughts flying by from what I really believe.  And, I can’t seem to stop the thoughts from running rampant.

Then came Easter and all the negative- you’ll never have kids thoughts rushed through my head.  I even glamorized past relationships and convinced myself had I stayed I’d already have the kids I’m longing for.  The inner struggle ensued, and the holiday became a battlefield inside my head.  I caught myself staring at my parents and fantasizing about what great grandparents they’ll be and felt guilty I haven’t made this a reality for them.

I wondered what traditions we would do.  Would we hide eggs?  A basket?  Gifts?  How would I dress my fictional children?  Would we splurge for something new, or would I make something we had work?

Ugh- maybe it would be nice to forget.  I wish I could get a little situational Alzheimer’s.  If only we could all choose to have dementia over certain parts/moments of our lives, then maybe being forgetful wouldn’t be all that bad.

There are some memories I pray I always hold dear: the sound of my relatives voices; the way my grandpa hugged me; yard sale shopping with my Grandma Ginny; the taste of the meal I had at Eataly in New York; standing at the 9/11 Memorial; witnessing my best friend give birth; attending a World Series victory game; having a student tell me she loves reading because of me; and many more.

What would I want to forget?  I started to make this list, but I’m not sure I’d want to forget any of it- even the painful stuff.  My parents divorce, the constant long drives back and forth for weekend visits with my dad, my mom and Mike separating,  past relationships the loving and losing have all made me who I am.  By losing these memories, I might lose myself.  I’d lose who I’m becoming and who I want to be.  It’s in the remembering that we grow and keep moving forward.

I hate seeing my grandma lose herself and the grandma I know.  I wish I could offer us both a little relief.  I would quiet my running thoughts and help her mind from running away any further.

 

I’m Moving Up

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I’ve been quietly exploring new options for next year.  Those of you who know me or who have read my blog before can probably easily tell I haven’t been happy this year and that my current school/situation isn’t the best fit.

For the past couple of years I have heard, “You should really teach middle school.  Are you sure you want to teach 5th grade?  You treat your 5th graders like middle schoolers.  I know eventually you’ll move up.”

Last year after hearing I seem like I’d be a perfect 7th grade middle school teacher from yet another person, I finally decided to take the Praxis for Middle School Language Arts.  I passed the test, but I still kept the idea on the backburner and took a position as a 5th grade classroom teacher (teaching all the subjects).

After a rough year this year, I decided I might want to explore a middle school position further.  I always feel like I’m pushing my students, but they aren’t developmentally ready to do what I want to try with them.  I also miss just teaching reading and writing (my last school was departmentalized and that was my focus).  I’m constantly spreading myself thin trying to do 5 preps a day.

Before, I thought I could connect better with my students if I had them all day, so I went for a position teaching all the subjects.  I’m realizing though I connected more with my students over books and their writing in the shorter periods that I was with them than I feel like I have with my current students that I’m with all day.  I also feel like my teaching was better when I could pour my heart into reading and writing lessons.

So, I applied for a couple middle school positions.

Last week I got the call from one of the schools inviting me to interview.  As I continued through the process, I wanted the job more and more.  It’s so weird how you start to learn what you want and you wonder if it exists after such a challenging year.  Then, out of nowhere it shows up with a position and at a school you would have never expected.

My mom kept saying, “If it’s meant to be, you’ll end up there.”

Ugh- that statement is so annoying.  I say it all the time to others, but hearing it lately seemed like a statement you tell people so they don’t cry.  It’s like telling a bride it’s good luck to rain on their wedding day (someone clearly made that up to calm down a hysterical bride).

Well, I got the call tonight.  I guess it’s meant to be.  I’m moving up to middle school and am going to be a 7th grade communication arts teacher!   Suddenly this year doesn’t seem so pointless, but it seems like it guided me to finding what will hopefully be a better fit.

I’m excited and nervous about this new journey. I’m definitely going to need to pick the brains of some of my middle school friends.