Confessions of an Elementary Classroom

When the principal tries to explain Veteran’s Day…

Student #1: “Were there any presidents that were veterans?”

Principal: “Yes, many of our presidents served in the military.”

Student #2: “Did Donald Trump?”

Principal: “No, I don’t think Donald Trump did.”

Student #2: “Yeah, because if I ever met Trump, I’d just punch him in the face.”

…Awkward Silence…

Student #2: “Wait… Did you just hear that?”

double take.gif

Teacher and Principal: “Who didn’t?”

When the associate priest attempts to explain the concept of Purgatory…

Priest: “So, it’s like… if you had to get cleaned up for a big occasion.”

Student: “Like you’d get dressed up?”

Priest: “Yeah, but like… you want to make yourself presentable, and you take a shower and you put on your best clothes… you know, if you had a big important event to go to… like a… like a… a…

Student: “A hot date?”

When you’re reading “Because of Winn Dixie”…

Student: “Why does the kid keep calling her dad a monster?

Teacher: “What? Where? She doesn’t call her dad a monster.”

Student: “Yeah, she does, but she doesn’t use that word. She like… she calls him a creature or something.”

Teacher: “A PREACHER? She keeps calling him “The Preacher”.”

Student: “Oh, what’s that?”

Teacher: “It’s like a priest who gets married.”

*Long Pause*

Student: “Wait… I don’t get it.”

I dont get it

During an art lesson…

Teacher: “And if you’d like to use Googly Eyes on your spider, they’re on the front table.”

giphy[1]

Student: “Did you just say Googly Eyes?”

Teacher: “Why are you hiding underneath the table?!”

When trying to get the students to quiet down…

Teacher: “Hey! Ringo Starr! Knock it off!”

Student: “Ringo Starr! I KNOW HIM!!!”

When they’re right, they’re right…

Student: “Ms. Evans! So and So said I sound like Charlie Brown’s sister.”

Teacher: “Sally? He said you sound like Sally?”

Student: “YES!”

omg yes

Teacher: “Okay… don’t take this the wrong way… but you totally do.”

Student: “I KNOW!”

Never a dull moment, you guys. Never a dull moment.

The Secret Life of the Protestant Revert

Teaching at a Catholic School is tough.

Especially, when you became Catholic while teaching at said school, and later decided maybe you just don’t buy into the whole “Catholic” thing. (Keeping the whole “Protestant Revert” thing under wraps is no small feat, my friends.)

It’s especially hard when you begin attending the same church as a fellow Protestant student in your class – the one student who has to say every thought that pops into their heads – with minimal understanding of any possible consequences of such a course of action.

So, I went to the Baptist Church last week. Truth be told, I’ve been going to this church for quite some time – it’s just that this student has never seen me there before.

They spotted me this past Sunday. They shouted my name. They ran up to me. They hugged me. They asked me all kinds of questions about what I was doing there.

No big deal. It’s pretty much par for the course when you teach in a small town.

It only became more of a deal this past week when new Father Assistant Pastor came in the classroom to teach the kiddos about all things Catholic.

The conversation went a little like this:

Student: “I saw Ms. Evans at church on Sunday!”

Father Assistant Pastor: “You DID?! Well, I didn’t see you guys! Why didn’t you come up and say hi?!”

Student: (rolls eyes) “No, not at YOUR church, Fr. Assistant Pastor. MY church. The BAPTIST CHURCH.”

Fr. Assistant Pastor: (quietly) “Ohhh…”

I thought the momentary awkwardness that hung in the room after such a revelation would pass quickly. I thought wrong. I forgot I had a classroom full of SUPER devout Catholic kiddos who pretty much know the Catechism front to back.

Super Catholic Kiddo #1: “You didn’t take the Eucharist, DID YOU?!”

Teacher: (lying) “No. I didn’t take communion.”

Super Catholic Kiddo #2: “Traitor! Why are you going there? Are you not Catholic anymore?”

Teacher: (lying): No, it was just this one time. (Silently praying that Protestant Loud Mouth Student NEVER spots her at church again.)

I mean, listen. I get it. Where you decide to go to church is really no one’s business. UNLESS you work in an organization where religion is of utmost importance. ESPECIALLY if you work for a SUPER conservative Catholic place where WHERE you attend church and how often and the date and time of your last confession is of utmost importance.

It’s exhausting trying to hide this whole, “Mer… yeah, no. I’m not really Catholic anymore” thing. I appreciate the sentiment behind it, but… really, I think most of it is just a bunch of rules made up by a bunch of men trying to exert control over wily populations who might start thinking for themselves.

No offense… I’m just saying.

And even though there are plenty of “non-Catholics” on staff, I just feel like the powers that be have a special eye on me since I became Catholic while working there, and then turned tail and ran a year and a half into it.

I hope I’m wrong. Because… I mean… I guess I could technically be fired for such a thing. You know, not faithfully living according to the standards of the Catholic church and all.

*sigh*

But until that day comes, I guess I’ll just pray that my students figure out soon which information is worth sharing, and which information is best to keep the lip zipped on.

 

 

Sucker

Hey Guys,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Well, with teaching and all, I’ve been a wee busy. Which is stupid. I’ve been desperate to get back to writing… and writing on here… and catching up with you all. But there’s always another paper to grade, e-mail to respond to, child to scold… You know how it is.

Or maybe you don’t.

It’s hard to be a writer when you’re so busy being a teacher. Teaching isn’t just a day job… it’s a… THING. This huge, looming, lurking, hulking, intimidating THING. That sinks its teeth into you and doesn’t let go of your lifeless body until it deems you’ve had enough punishment.

Apparently, I’m a sucker for punishment.

This whole teaching thing takes up my entire life. I wake up dreading teaching and go to bed thinking about it. I plan my day for it, my weekends around it, and my waking hours by it. You don’t just get to leave work at work. Oh… no, no, no. Work comes home with you… and follows you around… and guilt trips you… until you submit to its merciless nagging.

It’s like the worst marriage ever.

I’m sorry… where was I going with this?

Oh, yes. Writing. It’s hard to write when you teach. Which is sad, because I’ve been DESPERATE to get back to writing. I’ve missed it so. I feel drained without it. Depressed. Lonely. Frustrated. Lost.

Is that weird? That’s probably pretty weird, huh? I just mean, I’ve been “off”. I think about writing, I crave writing, and yet, there just doesn’t seem to be time… or energy.

So, I’m back. I gotta get back on this horse and begin again.

And again, and again, and again if that’s what it takes.

 

The Chicken and the Baby

The other day, while babysitting, one of the kiddos asked if I like babies.

I said, “Meh… not really. I like kids better.”

Then she asked, “But don’t you think they’re so cute? Don’t you want to hold one?”

And again, I was like, “Uh… not really. I’m not much of a baby person. I like kids better.”

Shortly after that, one of kiddos I tutor asked if I wanted a baby of my own.

Because it is rude to be like, “Ew. Gross.” when one is speaking of babies, I shrugged naively and said, “I don’t know.” But really, inside, I was all…

ew

Apparently, when it comes to all things “Annie”, people have had babies on the brain. As in… I should want one… I should have one. Apparently, having a longish-term, stable relationship that it veering towards marriage makes everyone think of babies… except for me.

A few months back, my teacher peeps and I were sitting around having lunch in the teacher’s lounge and the conversation naturally turned towards babies. Apparently, amongst women, conversations have a tendency to turn towards babies when you have one girl on staff about to be married, another one expecting her second, and a third one waiting with bated breath for that engagement ring. The older ladies were talking about the miracle of childbirth and placenta this and infertility that, while the younger ladies were all enthralled and chirping happily away about their hopes of having at least one kiddo who plays hockey and maybe, a husband who can change a dirty diaper.

I sat there eating my sandwich like this…

idiots

I could not have been more turned off by the entire conversation, which got me thinking…

WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME?!

Okay, so I’ll admit that a few years back I was all, “SQUEEEEE! BABY! I want a baby! I want a little doll-sized child to dress up and plan a nursery for and raise properly and then I can show everyone how it’s done! And I will love him and kiss him and call him George!”

Apparently, this phase in my life was rather short-lived because now I’m all… “Nah. I’m good.”

In fact, the other day, I ran into a friend who had just given birth to their 3rd kiddo… and because I know what is expected of me when babies are around, I pretended to be interested and in love. You guys? I honestly couldn’t have cared less. But I did the whole cooing thing and complimenting thing and baby talk thing, all the while thinking, “Can I go now? I have things to do.”

And then the friend held the baby out to me so I could hold it.

uncomfortable

Um… I’m sorry. What?

You guys… I had no desire to hold this little bundle of joy.

So, I tried to get out of it. “Oh, no-no-no. I’ll probably drop it.”

“Oh, comeon… no you won’t!”

“Yes, but it’s head is going to fall off…”

Side Note: What is WITH baby’s heads?! Why are they so wobbly?! Shouldn’t they be screwed on in a more secure fashion?! They’re all like… bobbly and ready to snap at a moment’s notice. That’s not safe! Babies freak me out for their wobbly heads alone. It’s unnatural and unsafe and weird.

“It’s fine. Here. Hold her.”

And then this may have happened…

hold baby

You guys, I was holding that baby like a mutant alien strapped with nuclear weapons.

It was the most uncomfortable, unnatural three and a half minutes of my life. And the whole time I’m sitting there thinking, “What is all the fuss? I don’t want to smell this child, I don’t want to kiss this child, I don’t want to gnaw on their little baby fingers or stroke its head or cuddle it or snuggle it or talk to it. I WANT THE MOTHER TO TAKE IT BACK!”

And when she finally did, I was all, “I don’t get it. Ew.”

Okay, so I didn’t say that out loud. Out loud I was all, “Awww… she’s so precious!” But inside I just… couldn’t even.

In fact, a few days after this incident, I was asked to hold a chicken… (yes, a chicken)… and I did. And you guys? Holding that chicken felt more natural than holding that baby. The chicken I could handle. (After all, its head was securely attached.) The baby? Not so much.

So, while everyone my age is out there popping out babies and making plans to pop out babies, I’m just going to sit here quietly with my cat and my chickens and silently question their decision making skills. Honestly, I think that sounds like a pretty good plan.

 

 

Do what you love

The other day, one of my students asked me, “Ms. Evans… was it always your dream to become a teacher?”

I had to stop and think. As a child, I had some wild ideas about what I would be when I grew up. A singer? A dancer? A doctor? A lawyer? A teacher? A writer? An actress? A movie director? An FBI AGENT? (No lie… I actually wanted to be one for a while…)

But when it came down to it- when I was forced to declare a major back in college… it all came down to what my gifts were and where my passions lay. It had to be writing or teaching.

So, I went after what I loved.

And became a teacher who writes. Or a writer who teaches… depending on how you want to look at it.

And in that moment, I realized just how thankful I was that I was doing what I genuinely… LOVED. I wasn’t stuck in some dead end job trying to make ends meet… drudging through each day with the weekend as my only respite to what was otherwise an exercise in futility. I mean… how many people can say that? “I love what I do and I’m doing what I love.”

Can you say that? Because if you can’t… I encourage you to go for what you really want. Even if your dead end job is just a means to an end… work at it and stick with it and keep your eyes on that end result… because truly, it’s never too late. And life is too short. So, find what you love and do it.

Earning Love

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

Having additional time off and not staying crazy-busy has sent me into a bit of a tailspin.

I had no idea how much I crave busyness. During the school year, I rarely have down-time. During the summer, even with my part-time gigs, I underestimated just how much down-time I would have. I seem to have forgotten the negative effect down-time can have on me. Suddenly, I have time to think. And when I have time to think I have time to obsess. And when I have time to obsess, I have time to be anxious about everything. And when I have time to be anxious about everything, I have time for panic attacks.

Before going to bed, while in the shower, while prepping for tutoring, while babysitting, while in the doctor’s office, while waking up in the middle of the night, while preparing for the day… panic, panic, panic.

It didn’t actually occur to me that I was having panic attacks until I took the time to look it up. All I could think was, “What the heck is wrong with you?! Chill, woman. You’re being ridiculous.” But all the chastising in the world couldn’t bring me down from the ledge I was about to hurl myself over. It all came to a head while in the shower one afternoon, freaking out about the numbness in my leg, convinced I had a life threatening disease that was going to kill me right then and there, when I pulled the towel off the rack, tied it around my head and…

A spider, the size of Cincinnati, crawled out of the towel and into my hair. The result? There is no gif adequate enough to properly convey the madness that followed. The screaming, the throwing, the hyperventilating… Winston (who doesn’t get up for anything) actually came to check on me. That’s how bad it was. When I realized I had trashed my apartment and emotionally fallen apart over a spider? I knew it was time to see the doctor.

So, of course, the doctor prescribed me something. But, of course, since it wasn’t a magic pill, it took a few days to kick in. (Actually, I may still be waiting for it to completely kick in…) In the meantime, I surrounded myself with Bible verses and prayer and sleep. (Well, the best sleep I could get when I wasn’t obsessing, worrying, and panicking.)

One night, while in the throes of yet another panic attack that had awoken me at 3:00 in the morning, Winston jumped up on the bed to offer his company… and I immediately launched into what I like to call my, “Have-To” mode.

I have-to cuddle him. I have-to let him know he’s appreciated. I have-to show him he is loved. I have-to give him some attention. I have-to be a better pet parent. I have-to brush him more, feed him less, play with him more, hold him more, leave him home alone less, etc, etc, etc. I have-to do this, that, and the other thing for him, right here, right now, otherwise, it’s all going to fall apart.

Okay, clearly the have-tos play a big part in my anxiety… But it was in the midst of me tearing myself down over how much I wasn’t doing and how much more I could be doing that the following thought crossed my mind…

Maybe Winston just wanted to give me some affection. Maybe he wanted to keep me company. Maybe he wanted to check on me. Why couldn’t I  just let him love me? Why couldn’t I just let myself be loved… period??

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a thought. Maybe it was a prompting of the Holy Spirit. But it was this thought and/or prompting that made me realize… If I can’t even let my cat show me love, how can I ever expect the Lord to get His foot in the door long enough to show me love? I’m always so worried about what I’m doing earn that love – any love – all love – love from family, love from friends, love from coworkers, love from Jack, love from God, even love from my pet. What it boils down to is the fact that I seldom am able to receive love because I’m always convinced that I haven’t earned it. I haven’t done enough, I’ve done too much, I’ve done it too often, I’ve done it too seldom, I’ve done it too late, I’ve done it too early, I did it too eagerly, I did it impersonally, I did this wrong, I did that wrong, I didn’t do the other thing well enough… And until I can fix it all, and tie up the loose ends, and prove I’m worthy of love, I shrug it off, push it away, and ignore it altogether because… anything that unconditional… that free…. can’t be meant for me. I’m not good enough for it.

Why can’t I just receive it? Who said I had to earn it? What makes me think I’d ever be able to earn any of it? EVER?! That’s what’s so amazing about our Heavenly Father’s unconditional love… it’s just always there for the taking… but we’re not taking it… because we’re too busy trying to earn it.

At least I am. And it’s exhausting… and probably an excellent source of all that anxiety.

So, as I settled back under my covers with Winston nestled under my chin and drifted off to sleep, I realized, I can barely do enough to earn my cat’s love, thank God I don’t have to earn His. And with that, I let Him love me, as I settled in for the best morning’s sleep I have gotten in a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

Ahem.

I know.

I’ve been ridiculously inconsistent about writing on here.

It’s not that I don’t have the time…

It’s just that… well there’s so much else to do!

Kids to tutor, kids to babysit, boyfriends to date, siblings to talk to, friends to keep up with, thank-yous to write, dishes to wash, laundry to do, books to read, music to listen to, cats to clean up after, road trips to take, prayers to pray, naps to sneak in, lessons to plan, new years to prep for, pretend arguments to have in my head…

And all of a sudden, one third of the summer is gone and I still don’t feel like I’ve had a vacation. I feel like I’m still on everyone else’s schedules… because I am… with parents to answer to for tutoring and babysitting… when all I ever wanted was a break. A break from screaming, arguing, challenging, whining children. And I don’t get a break…. It’s just that I get to deal with them for a shorter period of time and I get to sleep in a couple extra days a week… THAT’S NOT A VACATION.

I know. I do it to myself. Because I can’t say no. It’s all my fault really. But I’d be much obliged if everyone would stop POINTING IT OUT TO ME.

“What are you doing here?! School’s out! You’re on vacation!” says every other married teacher at the school who is simply maintaining this job on a disposable income kind of basis because their spouses are the bread winners and they just get to pursue their hobby of teaching.

No. See, this is my actual JOB. Which requires additional jobs in order to maintain. I actually have bills to pay. And I need food to eat. And clothes to wear… n’ stuff. So, I HAVE to work these extra jobs… along with this other teaching “gig”. I don’t do it just for fun. I’m not a public school teacher. Geeze.

I just want to sleep. And stare. And write. And drink coffee every day. And not set an alarm clock. And shower when I darn well feel like it!

I realize how petty and pathetic this all sounds. “Oh, BOO HOO. Annie has to work the rest of the summer like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!”

I know. I’m spoiled rotten. I get it. I need to shut it. But hey, don’t blame me because you didn’t go into education. It’s not that it’s my fault that I have a cushy job that affords me the privilege of having 3 months off and the perks of working only 3 extra days a week for some extra cash.

Ahem.

I’m going to stop talking now.

And pretend this conversation never happened.

Because it didn’t.

I’m too busy for such pathetic, self-pity wallowing conversations.

Ahem.

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.