The British have done it again. It’s Saturday morning, Josh is still sleeping, and Jackson is glued to his newest favorite tv show: Postman Pat. The Brits have the ability to create a kid show that promotes community values and doesn’t involve loud music or over-stimulation. So I’m completely comfortable having some quiet time, reflecting on the last weeks, while Jack learns about the important job of being a postman.
The start of this school year was exciting for me because, for the first time in three years, I didn’t suffer an identity crisis about whether I was supposed to assume the role as “teacher” again. In fact, I knew that substitute teaching was exactly what I am supposed to do this year, and if you know me at all, finding peace in decisions does NOT come easily for me. I had been contacted about a full-time teaching job at West Ottawa, and I was even told by the department chair that they were looking forward to interviewing me, but it didn’t surprise me a bit when I never heard about it again. It’s not what I’m supposed to do right now. Through the hustle and bustle of Target’s back to school aisles as kids picked out notebooks and backpacks, I picked up a simple portfolio to take notes on for teachers. That felt liberating.
Jack is going to Jean Den Herder’s house twice a week again, and he couldn’t be more thrilled. He LOVES Jean’s house. His friends have all grown up a little bit and they can interact and play together more than they could in May. The first day, he darted across Jean’s living room for his favorite basket of toys as if he had been there yesterday. As a parent, it is indescribably satisfying to have a daycare that you both love and trust. Jean’s house is cozy and eclectic. For example, she inserted a small nook by the door with low hooks for little ones to put backpacks and coats. Her kitchen has a vintage round table that is two feet above the ground (no table for her or her family, just the kids). Her toys are not bright and plastic; they are worn, old, plain, and the kids love them. I believe Jack explores his imagination more thoroughly at Jean’s because the environment is perfect for creativity, and he is surrounded by kids his age whose minds are as wild and unlimited as his.
While Jack spent his day on the playground and at the art easel, I spent the day on Wednesday teaching middle school Social Studies at Holland East. I left the day feeling great about substituting, but my shoulders and back were so tired, I felt myself slump as I made my way to the car. I’m hopeful this is because it was the first day and I need to get readjusted to the chaotic life of teaching school. I loved taking attendance, reading announcements, answering questions, and delivering a lesson on maps (those poor children). I loved walking around, helping find coordinates for latitude and longitude. The day, overall, was a success. But, what made me so tired?
I think it’s the fact that, when teaching school, your mind–at any given moment–is processing at least ten things. In every class, there are students who are late, unprepared, acting up. There are students who don’t care about you, the lesson, or anyone else around them. It truly is exhausting to keep up the state of alertness for seven straight hours, and I used to believe I could spend my days teaching, come home to my family with enough energy left over to clean, cook, and spend quality time with the boys. After Wednesday, I know I would not be the mother or teacher I want to be if I tried to reconcile and combine these two full-time jobs. Which is why I know God spared me from finding this out the hard way.
I’m so looking forward to this year: being in the classroom, continuing graduate school, spending loads of time raising Jack, volunteering at church, supporting Josh, and watching God unfold His plans for us…