Learning to make change

August 9, 2006

Have y’all seen that Staples commercial? It’s one of my favorites. This father is going through the aisles of the store lightheartedly tossing school supplies in the cart with a great big goofy grin – while the children follow behind – looking as if they’re on the path to the guillotine. And in the background you hear the Christmas song, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

The first days of school alway strike a chord in me. I adore shopping for school supplies. There’s something about the smell of new notebooks and pencils, the shiny packs of colored pens and highlighters, and all those nifty organizational products – call me a nerdo – but I could probably spend as much money at Staples as I do at Target (quite a feat.)

I have to tell you, though – even the excitement of a school supply shopping spree hasn’t been enough to calm my anxiety about this year’s first days of school. Big Brother is starting his last year at preschool and next year he’ll be in real school. My baby is starting preschool of sorts – same school as older brother, but obviously less intense. And me – well – mama’s going back to work. The winds of change are blowing again and all of a sudden I feel like the preverbial sparrow in a hurricane.

Yesterday was the beginning of the madness and today I am trying to find the words to tell my new boss lady that I quit. Let me quickly describe how horrific it was to even drop off my children. I had to hold back my big boy from running into his new classroom. I mean, I’m glad he loves his class, but what about me, man? Aren’t you even going to miss me? Don’t I get a hug? I could barely see my almost-five-year-old blow me the quickest kiss from across the room as my eyes fogged over from tears. Why is he growing up so fast?

Once I broke the seal of tears, it was over. I cried the entire walk over to the baby hall, and it just got worse as I handed the baby over, kissed him goodbye, and walked to my classroom. I literally had to duck into a bathroom to get myself together before moving on.

Keep in mind that this is my CHURCH, okay? It’s not some ghetto day care where the workers are filing their nails and washing their cheez-its down with a quick chug of vodka. It’s a beautiful, accredited school where I know almost everyone and even used to work myself. It’s just hard!

After I sucked back the tears I made my way to “the other side of the tracks” to the rooms for the Drop-In day care. I spent a good bit of Monday making the room look less like a holding cell and more like a classroom and damn, if it didn’t look good. The director was pleased and I gained a teeny tiny bit of confidence as I glanced over my legal pad with my detailed plans for the day. I met my two co-workers a few minutes before the children began to arrive. One of them has been with the program for eight years – but we all seemed to be on the same page regarding the daily schedule – blah, blah, blah.

I’m trying to find a way to condense my day without going into the details, so I’ll just say this and hope I get the point across.

CHAOS!

I blame myself, really. For starters, I only know how to deal with structured education programs. The whole “drop-in, sign-in, first come/first serve, laid back, who are you anyway?” system is just not something for which I was prepared. That, combined with me trying to implement some structure into a program that one teacher had been a part of for almost a decade – well – it just didn’t fly. It’s a very good program for its purpose, mind you. I just wasn’t as ready as I thought.

So there I was – tired, confused, overwhelmed, SAD – I honestly wanted to leave. I was in a daze for most of the morning and found myself wandering in thought. For instance, I was sitting there in front of my beautifully crafted bulletin board and calendar, singing a song for Morning Circle Time (which was to occur from approximately 9:20-9:35) and out of 18 children, I’m guessing that – oh – maybe – five of them were actually sitting there and listening. And all of a sudden I just zone out and think…”This must be what musicians feel like when they’re playing for an audience of assholes…”

Oh, yes – hello children.

The ages of the children range from three to five years old, so trying to determine content is a joke. BIG difference between three year-olds who barely speak and five year-olds who want to read to me. Geez.

It’s no secret that I hate change. I like finding a groove and sticking to it. I like the familiar – even when it’s to my own detriment. I’m trying to figure out what choice I’m supposed to make here. Do I bail on the Drop-In now so the director can find a replacement as soon as possible? Do I give it another week or two? The answer is somewhere inside me and I have to dig it out. What I know right now is that I dread tomorrow like the plague and that is not a feeling I want on a daily basis.

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