Month: September 2016
Today I am going to my training to be a substitute teacher.
I earned my teaching certification decades ago, and I have been teaching kids one-on-one in their homes. I really love teaching one-on-one. But I can earn some additional money as a substitute, and I think I would like to be back in the classroom – temporarily and for the short term.
So today is the training, and I am actually quite scared. I am afraid about going into the school and spending all day in a classroom with kids I don’t know. I am afraid of not knowing what to do for a whole day when I get there. I’m afraid that the staff won’t help me and that I won’t know where to go or what to do during lunch and I’m afraid that the other teachers won’t have time to answer me if I have a question.
I’m afraid that the kids won’t like me. I’m afraid that they will be mean to me, or think I am mean, or that I will make some stupid mistake and that the parents will find out about my stupid mistake and they won’t like me either. I am not feeling confident at all.
But I am trying, for today, not to worry about all that.
After all, I am just going to an office building today.
I am just going to hang out with a bunch of other people who want to be substitutes, and learn what it’s all about. I am going to sit in a room for hours, learning about policies and procedures.
That I can handle.
I will have to decide about the rest of it later.
Shane was getting dressed to go to a Bat Mitzvah – his first ever.
Since it is a formal occasion, he was working diligently on his attire. I found him that morning in a pair of khaki pants and beige crew neck t-shirt. I tried to say something about the colors, but he interrupted me.
“I’m not done yet,” he said. So I muttered something about shirts that have collars, and I left.
Bill found him a few minutes later. Shane was wearing a pair of black pants, a white undershirt, a sport coat – and a tie.
“This looks nice,” Bill said. “But if you’re going to wear a tie, you might need a shirt with a collar.”
Bill helped Shane a little with his outfit.
Ten minutes later, Shane came downstairs looking like he’d just stepped out of GQ Magazine. He has done his own hair for years – styles it the way he wants it. On this day, he wore it short and slicked back in the front, not a hair out of place. He was not smiling, as is usual, and looked like he might belong on the cover of that magazine.
“Wow!” I exclaimed. “You look awesome!”
“Thanks,” he said, oozing cool.
“Do your shoes fit?”
“Kind of,” he said. “They’re a little tight but I can get through the day.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t think about your shoes. We’ll get you some new ones before you have to wear dress shoes again.”
“Okay,” he said. He started to walk away, while I was looking at his shoes and I caught a glimpse of … white.
“Let me see your socks,” I said.
He held up his pant legs. He was wearing bright white, ankle-high sweat socks with his black dress shoes and black pants.
“No,” I said. “Let’s go find you some black dress socks.”
“What’s wrong with my socks?” he asked.
“It’s just better to have all black,” I said. So Shane went and changed his socks.
When he stepped out of the car at the synagogue, I had tears in my eyes. Shane looked so beautiful, so handsome … so adult.
“Hi Shane,” someone called.
“Oh hi Ava,” he said, turning around.
“You look dashing,” she said.
And indeed, he did. Two additional friends arrived at the same time, and patted Shane on the back as they all walked toward the synagogue.
As I drove away, I realized that I hadn’t taken a picture.
But the picture in my mind’s eye, with Shane in his stunning attire, strutting away with his friends surrounding him … that picture is priceless.
Dylan found out that the bus driver just started showing up ten minutes early – and on Day 4, he caught the bus – with no help from me. This was a HUGE deal. So I wrote him the following letter:
What you did with the bus was awesome. You took responsibility for your own life, your own failure and your own success. You missed it twice, through no fault of your own, and then caught it when other kids are probably still struggling.
Here is why this is such a big deal.
A year ago, if you had missed the bus on the second day of school, I would have called the school or gone into the office for you. They wouldn’t have known anything, and I would have been a wreck until I figured out what was going on. I would have called someone to get the number to the bus depot, and then I would have called the bus depot to complain. I might have even had to write an email to someone’s supervisor, to figure out what was going on. And even then, I may have tromped out to the bus stop with you, and gotten onto the bus and yelled at the driver, and then asked what time the bus would be coming. THEN I would have spent two days telling you exactly what time you should get up, what time you should get out of the shower, and what time you needed to be downstairs and out the door so that you could catch that bus at whatever time the bus driver, or the bus depot, or the office, or the school bus liaison said that the bus would be there. And then I might have even driven you up to the bus stop to be sure that you caught the bus.
You know this is true, right? This is how my days have normally gone when you have a problem.
But you are almost 16 now. And I said that I would allow you to take responsibility for yourself. So while your way was not nearly as agonizing or as time-consuming as mine, which means you may have missed the bus for an extra day when I might have done all of my research/agonizing/yelling at people on Day 1, you did everything on your own.
I don’t even know what you did. You went into the school office, maybe, or you checked with other kids, or your just went up to the bus driver and flat-out asked. But YOU did that. YOU figured out what time you would need to get up, and get showered, and get downstairs, and out the door. And YOU got to the bus in time, in spite of the absurdity of the situation, and the downright impossible bus driver. YOU did that.
I did absolutely nothing. Well, except worry a little. But I didn’t have to DO anything!
This probably doesn’t mean anything to you – maybe it’s just a little thing. But to me, it’s absolutely huge. It’s the first time in awhile that I’ve thought, “Hey, maybe he can do this after all.” Because gosh, you CAN do this.
I am feeling very proud of you today.
So I wanted you to know that.