No explanation

Yesterday I went to get my TSA precheck so my husband and I can just glide on through security when we travel to Europe next month. Even with my GPS guiding me I missed my turn, per usual.

I left with more than enough time to get there so I continued to enjoy my recently created playlist on Spotify complete with sweet 90s tunes and found an easy place to turn around. I checked the time on my dashboard clock. Yep, still plenty of time.

When I finally got to where I needed to go and sat down to wait, I checked the time on my phone to ensure I was not late. It read 4:36. Wait, what? I left the house at 12:15 for my appointment at 12:50.

I checked again. Still 4:36. Logically, I knew it was just my phone, but I frantically looked around the small waiting room for a clock and could not find one. I pushed away the sci-fi thoughts rapidly invading my brain and decided to check the settings on my phone. There had to be an explanation. I figured I must have inadvertently messed up the time zone. Yet as I typed in Grand Rapids, MI into the clock settings to fix the time zone that I somehow changed, it read Grand Rapids, MI 4:39. Now my heart started to beat a little bit faster. Because for that, I did not have an explanation.

I did the only thing I could think of. I texted my oldest who was at home with the younger two. I also took a screenshot of my home screen as proof. Proof of what, I wasn’t sure.

I got a casual- 12:40, why? back from my fourteen year old. Phew. OK. So I didn’t time travel or lose 4 hours of my life somehow. It was my phone. I restarted it. If technology gets wonky, just reboot it, right?

Restarting it did not work. My phone still claimed that it was 4:40. But my name was called, and I had to get my precheck completed.

Once finished, I texted my husband sending him the screenshot (I knew the proof would come in handy). He told me to shut it off and turn it back on. I figured restarting would have done the same thing, but nope, this time it worked. The only funky thing left was that the time stamp on the text messages I sent to my husband before it was fixed said 4:44. So until the actual time caught up with my weird phone time jump, I had to scroll up to get any new messages he sent.

A few things I realized from this bizarre event:

  1. I am so reliant on my phone that I had a mini panic attack when I couldn’t trust it for a hot second.
  2. Strange science fiction things actually DO happen. I still don’t have an explanation as to why my phone did what it did. Why did my phone read the time zone as being 4 hours ahead of what it actually was? I’m sure it was some sort of technological glitch, but what if there was some invisible dark force messing with me? (Hmmm… a possible story idea…) Even my there’s-an-explanation-to-everything husband was at a loss.
  3. It must be EXTREMELY scary for those who truly suffer from time-loss episodes of any type. After the minuscule moment of panic and confusion I felt, I can’t even imagine how terrifying that must be to feel on a daily basis from true medical reasons. My heart hurts for them.

Ohhhh, Spiderman

When my oldest was just a toddler, my sister lived with me for awhile. He loved having his Aunt Dah (aka Jess) living with us. Once he walked up to her while she was taking a nap on the couch and whispered right in her face to see if she really was sleeping. To this day, she remarks on his stinky beef stew breath.

One time, we were all downstairs playing around, and he opened what I remember as being one of those tin tubs that popcorn comes in that had been sitting near the stairs for awhile. Inside of this tub-like thing was a toy Spiderman. This was a surprise to my son so his response to finding this Spiderman was pure awe. “Ohhhhh ‘Piderman!” he exclaimed with glee. It cracked me and my sister up.

This phrase has now become one of those strange sayings that no one really understands but the people involved. I say it often when I realize something or figured something out or something has been explained more clearly. But today, when I say it my 4 year old thinks I am actually seeing a Spiderman somewhere. Therefore when I proclaim, “Ohhh Spiderman,” he asks, “Where? Where is Spiderman, Mom?” I am unsure how to explain to him why exactly I am making this statement, so I usually just respond with a, “Nowhere, honey, I am just saying it.” He is then disappointed for a second until something else captures his attention.

I love this memory. I love that it is still relevant in our lives today, because it reminds me that there can be moments of wonder and inspiration in everyday life. It doesn’t have to be something huge and remarkable to make you pause for a moment and enjoy life. In fact, it SHOULDN’T be only the big things in life that make you stop and see the magic that’s around you.

An unexpected Spiderman toy in a tub that you haven’t opened in awhile and forgot it was even there can be enough to make you want to burst out with joy.

Crying on the last day of school

Yesterday I sat down at my desk to eat the lunch I brought from home. Students had been gone for almost two hours, and I had been cleaning and packing up my room. Because most of us are moving classrooms, this year’s end of the year clean up is more intense and taking much longer. Therefore, I was taking a little break before I got back to it.

I pulled out a folded up piece of paper from my pocket and began reading its contents on this little break. And then instantly started crying.

Earlier, before students were released from school for the final time this year, I asked my advisory to write a letter to next year’s students giving them some advice. I also casually mentioned they could write a letter to me or any other teacher as well. Several wrote letters of advice to future students, and one also wrote a letter to me. I folded it up and put it in my pocket so it wouldn’t get lost in my cleaning and purging.

Until I read this, I had no idea how this student really felt. Sure we had a decent relationship and she’s a student who overall wants to do well in school. But she is also a student who told me to “Get gone.” She is a student who whenever reminded to complete an assignment she was missing would scoff and say, “I’ll do it later, Miss.” She was a student who would often roll her eyes at my silly jokes and motivational “Let’s goooo!” chants. She is student who complained more than actively participated in class. An absolutely bright and fully capable student, most definitely, but until I read her letter to me, I didn’t realize the impact I had on her.

Her words showed me that you never truly know how someone feels about you. It shows me that some of what I was teaching and saying and doing in class really does impact students even when they are rolling their eyes or scoffing. Her words showed me that maybe, despite feeling very unsuccessful as a teacher more days than not, I am actually doing OK. And maybe I need to just keep pushing forward, doing what I do, looking for ways to improve of course, but I also need to keep her words in the back of my mind.

Her words will be there as a reminder that even when I feel in the depths of my soul that I am just not a good enough teacher for my students and should look for a different career path, that maybe, for some, I am exactly what they need.

Teacher Tired

Today we had our 8th grade Farewell Night. While it may seem silly to have such a ceremony for 8th graders who are literally walking across the street to the high school, it really is a nice, positive, love-filled event.

Each teacher gives out a department award and announces the names of the students in their homeroom. Many students use this night to get dressed up. They are able to be recognized, walk across a stage, and be clapped, hooted and hollered for. Like I said, it is filled with love and positivity.

However, I was a little concerned my portion of Farewell Night would go as smoothly as it did. I have been having these spaced out moments this week that I am blaming on being tired. Teacher tired. The kind of tired the very last week of the school year can make even the most energetic teacher.

Evidence:

  1. I left the washer machine lid open so clothes sat soaking in water for at least a couple of hours before I realized what happened and closed the lid so it could run its cycle. Twice.
  2. I put my contacts in the wrong eyes and it took me 15 minutes of blinking and squinting and wondering what was going on before I realized what I had done.
  3. I parked too close to the steps in our garage so when I stepped down heading out to school my foot got stuck and I almost fell on my face while my sandal stayed wedged in the small space.

I have read similar posts as well as the subsequent comments to such posts detailing things teachers have done when experiencing this feeling of exhaustion, yet I could never truly connect to them until this week.

I am very grateful tonight went so well. Now, I just have to survive until Friday and get all of my summer check out tasks completed. Then I can rest and rejuvenate.

BTS

My two younger sons are really into the K-pop group BTS right now. At the book fair the other day my middle son picked out an informational book about the group. We listen to one particular song (see below) on repeat when we’re in the car. Normally this would drive me crazy, but I actually really enjoy this song. It popped on the other morning when I was pulling into the parking lot at school, and I turned it up and let that song play. My four year and I regularly dance around the living room after school to this song. How can you not get fired up listening to this?!

I think one reason I enjoy me some BTS, aside from the catchy songs, is because it reminds me of my love for NKOTB. Obsessively watching their videos on VHS tapes and buying books and magazines about them when I was younger just like my sons are doing with BTS now. Well, except for the VHS tapes of course. My sister even had a NKTOB comforter of which I was jealous of, but could never admit. As an adult, I have seen NKOTB in concert at least 3 times. The love for them will never die. But I can definitely appreciate the awesomeness that is BTS.

According to my husband’s recent research the members of BTS do their own writing and producing of their songs, unlike New Kids on the Block, he was quick to point out. Hater.

I dare you to listen to this BTS song and not want to bust a move. This song is going to keep me going these last 3 and a half days left of school this upcoming week.

3 things I will never do as well as my mom

  1. Sew. Oh sure I can sew on a button, and last year I had sew up a hole in a pillow, but if I need something hemmed or the hole to look like it wasn’t even there, I go straight to my mom. I know I learned how to using a sewing machine in middle school home economics years ago. I even remember the sweet watermelon patterned shorts I made, but it did not stick. And truthfully it is not something I am interested in. My mom sewed amazing costumes. Once she sewed a yellow submarine costume for my figure skating show. I was so embarrassed to wear it, but her ability to make such a costume was impressive.
  2. Cook. No matter how hard I try, nothing tastes as good as my mom’s cooking. Even simple noodle salad. It just isn’t the same. I don’t really like to cook either. This makes me feel like I am letting my family down because my ENTIRE family is filled with amazing cooks. I try, and there are a few things I do decently, but in the daily grind of life, I stick with the bland basics. I figure this way it is a treat to know we will get some delicious food when we visit Grandma.
  3. Be crafty. During the Polar Vortex I made playdough. I was very impressed with myself. I am not a crafty person, and for as many times as I have tried, I just can’t get into it. My mom, however, always has some sort of crafty project to do with the grandkids, and they love it. Her house is decorated for each holiday, she makes cookies and puts googly eyes on them, and she is always in the middle of some sort of home project. “I’m just going to take this table and…” None of this craftiness rubbed off on me. The only holiday I really decorate for is Christmas. I do hang a decorative wreath or sign on my front door each season, but that is about as crafty as I get.

3 things I learned from my mom

  1. How to love. Unconditionally. Even when you might have thrown a party while your parents were out of town leaving cigarette burns as a forever reminder. Still loved. We spent evenings together. Whether it was snuggling in Mom’s bed watching Rescue 911 or Unsolved Mysteries or laughing around the dinner table. We said goodnight and kissed each other goodbye. Love was felt and known and never questioned. I grew up believing this is just how families are, but being a teacher now for almost two decades, I know this is not the case. And it makes me immensely grateful for what I had and still have.
  2. How to support and encourage. I remember once watching Home Improvement with my mom. It was a later episode when the youngest son had turned Goth, I believe. I made some snarky comment like, “How can his mom be OK with this?” My mom simply said, “Sometimes you just have to let your kids go through their phases. You know, like when they dye their hair black or something.” Just a year or two earlier it was me going through said phase, and my mom had been right alongside me helping me rinse the black dye from my hair in our basement wash tub. She didn’t question it. She didn’t even pass judgment. She just let me live through it and helped me rinse until the water turned clear again.
  3. How to laugh often and be goofy. From random dance moves to singing songs loudly and off-key, I grew up in a home where silliness was encouraged and laughter was plentiful. To this day we have little inside family jokes and strange sayings that an outsider, or even a spouse, doesn’t fully understand or think is very funny. There has never been a time when we have been together that we haven’t laughed, full belly, can’t-catch-your-breath, laugh. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Why are we clapping?

It is the end of the school year, and it is also testing season. Every other week it seems there is another very important test the students must perform well on. Thus it is project time in my class. Something to keep students engaged and sort of, but not really, quiet.

In one of my classes today I was trying to be a cheerleader to keep students motivated to finish their projects, and I did a little “Let’s go!” and some clapping. One student decided to join in. Then another and another. Soon almost the entire class was clapping and cheering loudly. And then of course there were a few students looking around and asking, “Why are we clapping?”

I didn’t have an answer to that question, because I wasn’t sure myself. I also was laughing too hard to give an answer even if I had one.

These students and their goofiness remind me why I enjoy this bizarre in-between age known as middle school. But as much as I love them, man, am I ready for summer.

#smilelikeeric forever

Today I got my 3rd tattoo. I got my first with my mom when I turned 18. We went to a local tattoo place, picked the cutest ladybug off the wall, and got it done. I remember tattoos being more expensive than I thought, almost fainting, and learning that the shop had closed down just a few months later. Yikes.

I was young and rebellious and felt oh so cool. But really it looked dumb. No one said they liked it. I didn’t really like it after awhile. I even had a few cute little old ladies at the workout place I was a member of (a place like Curves, but not) ask if it was a mole, and if it was they insisted I get it checked out. I appreciated their concern, but was pretty embarrassed.

So just under 20 years later, on a lazy running some errands Saturday, I popped into another local tattoo parlor and asked about a cover up. I gave the artist my wishes, she looked at it and told me to come back in a couple of hours. She had created a beautiful design, and I was hooked. But I am a person who wants each tattoo to mean something significant. They are permanent after all. It took me a few more years, and a milestone (40) birthday to finally figure out what I wanted.

After turning 40 and getting my 2nd tattoo, I decided I would get a new tattoo each year until I turn 50. Hence, today’s tattoo.

This one means a lot to me too. It makes me so sad that the idea for this tattoo even exists. It isn’t fair that it even had to come about. It doesn’t make any sense. It forever changed a family. And it breaks my heart.

But its message is full of hope, love, and happiness. It embodies the memory of my late and beloved brother in law. It is a permanent reminder to always look for the positive in life, to spread love, kindness, and joy; just like he did. And most importantly, to keep smiling. #smilelikeeric