This Where the Nonsense Turns to Makesense

..A large family working to perfect our sweet skills: Loving others, making an impact, parenting on purpose, living simply, and embracing sarcasm.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What's My Role? What's My Job?

I'm at odds on the inside. This time it isn't due to the rude amount of dairy I ate. This time it's my brain and my thoughts and how they intertwine with my heart. What I know verses what I feel. What I see verses my true reality. 

During the week, I spend a solid 35 hours looking into the faces of these tiny little clowns- 28 fifth grade clowns. They are a group of incredible humans, but most of the time I seem to know it more than they. 

I say, "that was awesome. Thank you for walking us through how you did that math problem!" 
They respond, "Uh. Mrs. B. I got it wrong"
I attempt to high-five them and they accuse me of being too enthusiastic. So I offer them a low five and attempt a serious face. I ask, "what do you mean you got it wrong?? Did you learn something just now by working through this problem?"

"Well. Yah. I know how to solve it now," they add with confused faces. 

"Perfect. Well the right answer wasn't '11'; the right answer was figuring how how not to solve this problem so you could get to 11!"

They walk away slowly assessing me while I chuckle and the rest of the class laughs, mostly happy none of them was on the spot just now. 

We laugh so much in my classroom. Sometimes, when I feel the day is taking too long or what we are learning is threatening our understanding, I stop the lesson for a story. I overdo it. I use big hands. I engage them in silly stories and banter to further their sarcasm and wit, but more importantly, I show them what it looks like to interact socially with an adult. 
There are too many "right answers" in these kids' lives. Too much of "do it this way or get out". Sometimes there's a punishment for simply having a different opinion. By the time this crowd is ten, they've learned to lay low and please their people. There's no disagreeing. 

So I am at odds. I walk a fine line as an educator. I'm not the mom, I'm the teacher. But what happens when a student doesn't need a teacher, she needs a mom because her true mother called her a slut earlier that morning. She's ten and an exceptional student, and even if her mother didn't mean it, she said it, and sent her daughter to school to process that with her little ten year old brain. 
I'm at odds because a boy who is handsome and tall and funny with a mound of potential gets kicked out of his house each morning. His step dad wakes him up at 7:30 and tells him to go. School starts at 9:30, and the walk is roughly five minutes. He doesn't open up much about this but it hurts him. He's told me it makes him sad. 
So, my question, dear readers, is where do I stand? If I was their mother, I could hold them and pray with them and say I am sorry. If I was a social worker it would be easy to say these kids are at risk. I would have a plan and a program and support. But I'm not. I'm a teacher. I have to stay neutral. I would never speak against a parent to a child. So what do I say? What do I do? 

For the time, I find myself being the recipient of hugs from students I don't yet even know. Kids in other classes. Kids I've never taught. It seems they aren't looking for a teacher or a new way to solve math; those are irrelevant in their hierarchy of needs. They need love. Of which I will never have enough to give. 

So for now I hug. I hug and I practice handing this weight up to Jesus because I can't win at this. I can't love enough or say the perfect words to change these kids' home life. I'm just one girl. #kathleenkelley

I'll continue living my real authentic life in this place where I've been so clearly sent. I'll attempt to be a peacemaker and a silent set of arms that hug back. Maybe that will be enough. Let that be enough, Jesus, or show me what to do because I know I'm not in this alone

Saturday, November 14, 2015

5.5 almost

We've been over this. I don't sleep. Last night I got a new oil that is said to have powers to keep you asleep once you fall there. It smells like grass. Some foreign grass one might find in Asia. I'm torn between two worlds: the man do I love sleep world and man do I dislike the smell of grass in Asia as I imagine it. But at the end of it all, I put a couple drops on my pillow and got a solid 5.5 hours of sleep. Not even a lot of tossing a turning. 

This could be a fluke. I always sleep better on Fridays. And why wouldn't I? My brain is fried between holding down my position as a teacher and leading the troop I call the Brew Crew. 

On the other hand, Saturday is a big night. Tossing and turning would make sense. I get to emcee Awaken's 4th annual fundraising banquet. It's sold out. My belly is at peace, but my mind is a jumble. I was focused and full of peace. And then terrorists came to Paris. 

Now my heart is unsettled which always gets me thinking which always wakes me up. What a web. 

It's so easy for me to stay unattached to traumatic situations. It's safe to say I fall somewhere in the spectrum of having an attachment disorder. There's been no clinical diagnosis, but I've been through enough training to help kids through it, and I know the hand I was dealt. Knowing this about myself, it's easy to understand when I don't engage the same way others do. But it's not acceptable. I don't accept it. 

If we strive to be the remnant of hope here on earth by pointing to Christ then we are to strive to hurt over the things that hurt Him. This is so counterintuitive. Place ourselves in harm's way? Lay our heart out where the pain is? Open our fists and sit by with palms wide open?this goes against my grain. I've mastered a life of keeping people just where I want them. 
I can love Jesus and care for people and keep all my emotions in order without ever being vulnerable. Until I come to realize that's not truth. That's a coping mechanism. It's a fleece thrown over my eyes that has slowly been thinning. The opaque takes on the sheer. 
Every morning I pray that my eyes would be open to see the people around me. And suddenly I'm understanding that this isn't his way. Instead, he's attempting to do that thing- that bit where he prunes and shakes and lovingly squeezes- where he pours a concentrated dose of love right down into my grinch of a heart and makes it swell to three times its usual size. That way he has about making me soften at the edges and dare to trust his kindness. That way he has of convincing us that we can wrap our hearts around the hurt in Paris and know we will walk out the other side still in tact. Maybe even a little bit stronger. 
I don't know how he does it. But I know it's his grace. The minutes I move from "everything is a trigger threatening my calm" to "I am willing to care about what you care about". I want to trust in his kindness enough to jump on the back of compassion and ride it like the pony I should have owned. 
I have practical steps to get better at this. Awaken is a an anti trafficking organization for local guys and girls here in Reno. I am mostly the writer and social media girl for the organization, but I've also connected with some of the girls we work with. Rather than keep them at arm's length and attempt to force sympathy, I think of their stories. I picture what their heart felt like at each section. How their moms and dads felt during that time. How others looked at them and knew they were hurting but maybe didn't know why or how or what they were really doing. 
So often at my work as a teacher, I come across a kid who seems loud and rebellious and in your face. Yesterday one such girl was giving her teacher an especially hard time. This girl is a button pusher. She has more than mastered the talent of I hurt you before you hurt me. She yells and teases and swears like a pro. She instigates and stirs up girl drama. So I put myself in her shoes. 

For a few minutes I stopped and asked, "what's really going on here?" And then I really watched her. She has no friends. When I ask her about family and what she did last night or how she gets along with her mom, she changes the subject smoothly but immediately. She's never answered. So I put myself in her shoes. 

And my heart aches. It squeezes and hurts and aches and wakes me up in the middle of the night to pray for these girls: the ones already working the streets and the ones at risk. 

And then, at 3:30 in the morning, this is when I start to realize that God doesn't want me to open my eyes. I see plenty. He wants me to open my heart. And he knows I'm not at all up for this challenge. Not at all. I will never have compassion enough for others. Part because I've been damaged and don't trust yet and part because love is a fruit only the Holy Spirit can perfect in me. My only job is to let him. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The All Time Angst

You know those nights when your dinner was good but not enough substance to carry to morning? When you eat too early or too light or dang it you're just hungry. 

I'm having one of these minutes. I ate. I even ate at a normal dinner hour: 6:30. But when you eat at a football banquet they give you an unabashed stink eye if you even look like you're going to ask about wheat free, allergy friendly menu items. There isn't an allergy friendly section. There isn't even a menu. Take your styrofoam plate with those little hilly dividers, grab your dinner roll, handle your plastic ware, and just pick those croutons out of your heavily dressed Caesar salad yourself. 
Fine. But may I please sneak a bite of that cheesecake? Oh. You saw that, did you? You noticed me sneak a cheesecake bite when I was standing in line for dinner? Huh. Interesting. What's that you say? The dessert line wasn't quite open yet? Hmm. Well. In that case, I took two pieces of cheesecake when your back was turned. 
I'm still hungry. I think I'll try some ice cream.