Wednesday, January 03, 2007
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
I’m winding down my last four months of my thirties, headed for 40 on April 25 of this year. I’m receiving a good deal of teasing about this milestone. Happily, I can say I’m ready. Of course, until April 24 who knows for sure how this is really going to affect me? But for now, I’m ready.
What is most interesting to me is that I can safely assume my life is at the half-way mark give or take. Of course, I could get an extra ten years for good behavior (not very likely) or lose some year to unforseen circumstances. The truth of it all is that there isn’t “all the time in the world” left to make of myself what I would like to make. And the real truth of it is, there never was.
When I was a kid I always, ALWAYS wanted to be a school teacher. My first true memory of this was in the second grade when I was called to the chalk board to write something, I’ve no memory what. But it struck me that I like standing there, in front of the class. I loved the idea of the well-dressed pretty teacher leading, inspiring. And writing on the chalk board any time I wanted to!
I took careful note of the things that my teachers did right for my future classrooms and the things they did wrong so I didn’t repeat their mistakes. I can remember every classroom I sat in through elementary school because elementary school was where I saw my future. The giant wooden climbers in Mrs. Steen’s kindergarten (safe? No, but good times nonetheless). Mrs. Kinneanan had a boring room and I now consider her to have been an overwhelmed first year teacher. Mrs. Rogel had a cool room that was the former kindergarten room when the school was first built so we had our own bathroom which we shared with the room next door and her desk sat in a bay windowed alcove overlooking the playground. This was the future classroom I envisioned for myself. There was a coat closet along the entire length of one wall and when Mrs. Rogel opened the first door, they all swung wide on a common hinge. Fantastic.
Mrs. Banes was utterly beautiful and it was upon her fashion sense I based my future teaching wardrobe including a brown page boy hair cut, royal blue sweater dress and red ankle strap sandals with red toe nails. She had the student’s desks arranged facing the windows with her desk facing us, so you’d turn to the right to see the chalk board. She also hung our papers and artwork on the bulletins boards updated weekly. Very inspiring that.
Mrs. Weinlander was the most inspirational of all my teachers. She was very old, perhaps as old as 40 at the time. She read us the Little House series that year. True love. She told us to wash our hands and our arms instead of walking around with white hands (there were no other color hands in my elementary school if you get my drift) and dirty wrists. She said, “Sacramento California and all points west of the Mississippi!” when she was frustrated or surprised or if she spotted you with dirty wrists. She did not decorate her classroom, she decorated our minds instead. I saw her a few years ago and she hugged me hard and talked about how smart I was and how pretty and shy and how proud she was of me. She loved me.
Ms. Page was a feminist first and a teacher second, or third. She made us read out loud and replace all the male pronouns with either female or non-gender specific such as they, them, etc. She actually taught fourth grade that year but there were five fifth graders chosen to make up a special split class and we were considered those able to self-motivate as sort of an experiment. I’m not sure the experiment worked but I rather enjoyed myself that year. She also taught us to balance checkbooks by handing out real check books to us and running a store from behind her desk. Another grand idea I meant to use myself.
Sixth grade was Mrs.Kendall who dressed like Maude and wore almost white frosted lip stick. She was very tall and imposing and utterly fantastically creative. Our classroom was so miraculously transformed at Easter that the local paper came to take a picture of it. She had hat making contests and basket making contests and art contests. She had a dead tree mounted in a cement filled bucket and we made various art projects to hang from the tree representing the theme of the moment. She let me draw in the margins of my papers calling it creativity. She also told my parents I was lazy and not working up to my ability. I hated/loved her for that. She took me to my first Detroit Tiger baseball game in the spring for being a good student despite working below my ability. She had a rug and bean bags in the front of the classroom where you could lay around and read as soon as your work was done. Every classroom needs a rug and bean bags, I’m convinced.
And so I decided to become a teacher.
And I never did.
Frankly when I went back to school a few years ago I chose nursing rather than education for two reasons. The schooling was shorter and teachers just aren’t getting jobs.
Oh, and I did feel God telling me to. That’s a hard one to ignore.
Today I don’t really want to teach elementary school. I don’t think I’d do justice to those inspirational women who decorated their classrooms and challenged us with hat-making contests and stood all day long in red ankle strap high heels.
Today I do have fantasies of teaching high school English that I push to the back of my mind so I don’t get frustrated with my current career.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job.
But those childhood dreams still hover just in the distance making me wonder...