Sporting Good Time

Ahh. . . a weekend off from kids' baseball, an Oasis in the desert of endless games and practices that is the life of a parent of multiple players in different age groups.  I have a love hate relationship with this season.  I love the warm weather and the boys' enthusiasm and the chance to visit with other parents while the kids whack balls, steal bases and learn to work as a team.  I hate the craze that the baseball schedule brings to our family schedule and the destruction of our evening routine and general sense of peace and tranquility (ok. a little exaggeration here :)  But seriously, we enjoy this season that puts us on a fast course to summer vacation.

It is interesting though.  I overheard a parent who was commenting at one of my son's games about a kid who was "really intense", but I didn't really hear the whole conversation.  I immediately felt self conscious, "is she talking about my guy?"  I know he fits the description.  He is definitely intense, and is one of the older kids on a team dominated by younger players.  And. . . his daddy, my husband is coach. . .so I can see why some might think (coaches son:  intense player).  That thought makes me laugh out loud, because yes my husband is coach, but intense about baseball he is not, he just hopes to teach them the little he has picked up watching our older son's games and practices and make sure the kids have some fun.  He is coach, because he was willing to coach.

Actually, neither of us played sports in school at all, but we hoped the team sport would benefit our kids and that they would have some fun with friends and neighbors around town.  So in true 'us' fashion, in the week that followed this game my older son, who is one of the youngest on a team of older players was fidgeting out in the field, (I always wish I could control his "strings" like a marionette when he does this as I think to myself, "What on earth is he doing out there??")

Fortunately, he has improved from last year.  He actually was paying attention in his own way and didn't miss any plays that I know of that day.  He also did had some great up to bats, walking and fouling against a fast pitcher on the other team. Again I caught a piece of conversation, ". . cant' pick your nose. . .this isn't tee ball. . " the rest was lost to the wind, literally the wind was crazy that day.  It is no wonder that when this woman's son, who is a fantastic outfielder, was up to bat and struck out quickly as he stood while the balls whizzed by, the thought crossed my mind, "See lady, nobody's perfect."

I didn't say a word though, because I don't think it is our job as parents of children on the teams to be snarky about the other players, children of our neighbors.  I miss last year's team where the all the parents rooted for each others' kids, we knew how far each of the kids had come since t-ball.  We rooted for kids who were more or less skilled, lower or higher on the intensity scale, having a good game or an off day, and it was our job to cheer them on and encourage them to do their best.




I sat down tonight wondering what to write about, and knowing I just needed to start, my mind wandered to school this year,  and to my return to classroom life as a paraprofessional lucky enough to work with a really great 3rd grade team.  It was a good choice to return as a paraprofessional, and begin to work out the new routine of being a working mom.  I have enjoyed the experience immensely and really have regained confidence in my own joy at working with children on a daily basis.  This has been not a small part due to the congenial nature of my colleagues who I have learned so much from this year.  
This opportunity has given me a handle on some of the challenges we are faced  within this high stakes testing era and reminded me of the challenges of facing a diverse group of children with various needs both educational and emotional each and every day.  I am lucky enough to say I have learned great things from each and every staff I have been in contact and hope to recall many (but in no way all) now.
  • From Kevin, I have learned a clear expectations and quiet patience go a long way in providing a safe learning atmosphere for some of our most challenging students.
  • Chris’s careful attention to time creates a steady pace and structure for a variety of learning, while making it possible for even the smallest moments to be capitalized on for a group game or sharing of news.
  • Alan’s enthusiasm for literature inspires his class to read, and me to revisit old favorites from my youth and the many wonderful books that I seem to have missed along the way.
  • Sherill’s attention to detail and seemingly endless tales of teaching experiences and wisdom have taught me new perspectives on meeting the needs of our diverse student population.
  • Caitlin’s fresh enthusiasm and ideals, backed up with clear understandings give me confidence and hope for up and rising teachers and the future of our profession.
  • Danny’s calm and quiet, yet unyielding presence in the face of challenging students is truly a bar set high to strive for.
  • Danielle’s unflappable nature and quiet humor is a joy to see in motion with children.
  • Anne’s insight and dedication to the emotional needs of students reminds me to reflect and avoid assumptions about children.
  • Naihsin’s and Linda’s ability and determination to get to the bottom of conflicts and issues with our children is both a motivation and comfort.
  • From James I have learned that consistent compassion is a gift to be given freely.
  • Nick’s vision as a principal for a school that meets the needs of students and staff alike inspires me to do my best, and help my children see the best in themselves.

Overall, this year has been wonderful, and as any the nearing end is bittersweet.  The downfall in regaining confidence to search for a full time teacher position this year is that my search may lead me away from new colleagues and friends, but who knows really what the future will bring. . .


Embrace the Struggle, yourself

What is it that makes humans too often, (at all, is too often) reject rather than accept or embrace the strugglers in the world?  I used to think it was strong dominating the weak, or rejecting the weak, as is common in nature.  But human nature is different.  It occurs to me, more often than not, people doing the pushing, rejecting, the sqashing, are simply avoiding facing some "truth".  Perhaps they act not out of strength, but out out of weakness, because  To embrace a struggling soul would require some recognition of something they don't want to face.  Maybe they too struggle, but are too afraid of the perceived dangers on the path that could lead them away from the struggle.  Are they living in a mold created by someone, always careful not to fracture the memory of that person?  Maybe they are made of glass, hard, shiny, and unyielding on the outside, but inescapably fragile. . .

Before we can have a world run on love and acceptance for all, people must become brave and willing to crack their own fears, look weakness in the mirror, and take charge of their own struggle.  We must first accept ourselves.