Tuesday, August 7, 2012

     For as long as I can remember August has been a month of pure joy.  School supplies were the prominent display in almost every store.  Just the smell of crayons sent a rush through my whole body.  I've been known to buy crayons just to smell them and be taken back to that glorious feeling.  New folders and binders - especially Trapper Keepers! - excited me beyond words.  Put that together with shopping for new school clothes at McAlpins with Mom and it was almost too much emotion for one girl to stand.  And there was still the prospect of going back to school and using all those supplies!  I have loved school since I've been old enough to go. 
     Somehow this year has been different.  Perhaps it was because, as a teacher, I started training in July - and I wasn't ready for summer to be over.  Perhaps it was that I am just getting older and more tired!  Perhaps it was that I don't get to shop for school supplies for myself anymore.  Perhaps it was that I had to leave my family at home and go off to work.  But I was certainly not nearly as excited to see boxes and binders, or even crayons for that matter.  Didn't even shiver at the smell. 
     But that all changed today.  One precious, exuberant, bouncing child changed it all.  Today was orientation at my school for parents and kiddos.  A young boy came up to a group of teachers I was talking with and smiled a smile that finally sent those shivers through my body.  He boldly proclaimed that he was going to be a first grader.  His enthusiasm, I feel quite sure,  could be felt for miles.  We realized quickly that I was blessed enough to be his teacher.  All that old joy and excitement came back to me as he went through his school supplies one by one on the cafeteria table.  He couldn't even wait to get to the room to show me! 
     Later, as I put away extra school supplies, I caught a whiff of crayons.  I nearly cried.  Once again, because of a sweet, sweet first grader they smelled delightful.  Teaching is hard work.  But the rewards are simply indescribable. Today it was without a doubt the best job in the world.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

That is SO not fair.

     As the world of sports often shows us - some rules, judges, officials etc., are just wrong.  They make things completely unfair for a team or a person.  Jordyn Wieber - a gymnast for the United States received the worst of this reality on Monday.  While her score would have qualified her to compete for individual medals - the rule stated that only two from each country would have the opportunity.  Now, I know she understands this is the rule.  And she didn't come up with enough points to be her top to teammates.  But only just barely.  And she ranked third out of every other gymnast in the world.  How can the third best gymnast in the world not be allowed to compete?  Every one who commented on it on t.v., blogs or social networks, in the newspaper, everyone who knows something about the sport of gymnastics says it is a bad rule.  A horrible rule.  But thus it stands.  Utterly and devastatingly unfair. 
     While I wish that after all the hoopla about it the Olympic Committee would say, "Oh your right.  Bad rule.  We will change it right now", I know that isn't going to happen.  My point really centers around what Jordyn Wieber chose to do last night.  Last night was the team finals and she had two choices: give her all for her team or pout, sulk, and remain upset about how unfair her situation had become.  The first, would help her team win - including the two girls who beat her out for a spot in the individual competitions.  The second, is what I would have trouble overcoming.  Given the depth of the sadness it was obvious she was feeling, I can see where it would have been almost impossible to come out and give your best.  She could have chosen to falter.  To let her emotions get to her and not even be able to perform at a high level.  Yet, from the very beginning of team competition, this young girl did just the opposite - she gave everything she had to be the best she could be.  She excelled, she performed in such a way that inspired me - and I believe her teammates.  
     What a reaction.  I pray that when I face things that are unfair - and they happen to us all the time - that I will have the grace and the courage and even the smile Jordyn showed.  Most of the time you can't change what is unfair.  It just is.  So instead, we need to go out and make the best of what we have left.  Give it our all.  Do our very best at whatever lies ahead of us.  Be happy with what we have instead of focusing on what we don't, or can't have.  Forgive those people who wronged us or those who get what we think we deserve.  And then work as hard as we can to shine through the circumstances.
     She may not win an individual gold medal but in my mind she won a battle we so often face, with dignity and a beautiful smile.