Saturday, January 22, 2011
Does anyone ever feel like they’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown as often as I do? I seem to go through a cycle of this every couple of months. That seems to me to be sort of a frequent occurrence.
Life starts going, and going, fast. And I feel like I can’t stop it. I try to do too much. I take on more and more at work, and then, all of a sudden I’m complaining to all in ear shot.
The people who know me (and love me in spite of that) also know that when I get like this, I start shouting out at random at least a few times a day, “For crying out loud, I’m a chicken with my head cut off!”
It usually takes some kind of epiphany to SNAP OUTTA IT!
This time, it is knowing, with even more intensity, how important PEOPLE are and the relationships we keep.
I went to a work conference yesterday about autism. The keynote speaker was Kari Dunn Buron, author of When My Autism Gets Too Big and When My Worries Get Too Big. What remarkable work she has done for children with autism and their families.
Throughout the day, I so enjoyed the videos and case studies of these precious children and adults on the autism spectrum.
I thought of the children at my school and their infectious, charming idiosyncrasies. Their heightened sensitivities, and yes, their behavioral difficulties that make our world all the more interesting and colorful and dynamic and mysterious.
School and education is so much more than reading, writing, math, and science or social studies (if you have the time).
I tell you what, MY social and emotional learning yesterday was beautifully increased. Our CARE for others, our connections and relationships are so much more important than…
…oops there’s another typo on this paperwork…
…well, this child only increased by 150 points on their math test, so that is NOT statistically significant ENOUGH to matter…
…you may only wear jeans on Friday, and you may only wear a collared shirt with khaki pants, and we must all judge and be upset with whoever does not follow these rules…
And all the other bullshit that goes on in schools every day.
What really matters is when…
…I look up from my desk because I can sense that sweet, third grade boy standing there, waiting for me to know he is there.
I smile and say, “Hi!”
He breaks into a goofy grin, awkwardly holds up his hand to wave at me, and in a too-loud larger than life voice says, “Hi, Mrs. Lorenzen!”
Then there is a moment of awkward silence as I wait for what I know is next.
He says, “Well, SEE YOU LATER, ALLIGATOR!”
I say with as much expression possible, “AFTER A WHILE, CROCODILE!”
And he gives a loud guffaw and walks away laughing, like I am the funniest person on Earth.
Or, there was the time that I am walking a different, dear-to-my-heart third grade boy to my office. He is socially still a little immature and is holding my hand as we walk. I am telling him, “I am so sorry I’m a little late to pick you up today! It has been a busy day. I’m like a chicken with my head cut off!”
Just then, we see the school principal walking by. The student is eager to talk to the principal. The student has language expression difficulties. The student says, “Hey! You know Mrs. Lorenzen. She is like, ummm, she is like a, uh, mummy! She is a mummy, and her head fell off!”
The principal looks at me quizzically. I just give him a smile and say, “He (the student) just knows me so well!”
Or, how can I forget ANOTHER wonderful fourth-grade boy that I have the esteemed pleasure to work with. He often tells me affectionately, “You have been with me ALL my years in school!”
“Yup,” I say. “Since preschool!”
“Yeah,” he says with a little smile curling on his lips. “You have never wanted to leave me. You have always liked me.”
“Yes,” I say, “That is true.” (Let me just fill you in on something – this child is a MASTER at testing those around him to see if they will stick by his side or leave him by acting in a…challenging manner.)
We share a comfortable silence for a moment.
Then, with that smile still playing at the edges of his mouth he says, “You look a lot older than you did when I was in preschool.”
“Yes,” I say with a grin, “I sure do.”
Thank you, God, for the reminders I needed to know why I do what I do. When I feel like a chicken with my head cut off, I also need to remind myself that, to these children I work with, I am actually an older-looking mummy who lost her head and loves them to death.
See you later, Alligators!