Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pick something else

When I was in my early teens, and had reached the age when everyone started asking me what I was going to be when I was done high school, the first answer I ever gave was: A Teacher.

I LOVE kids, and it seemed like the dream job to me. I figured I could spend most of the year teaching and spend my summers writing the children's books I had floating around in my head. And then, when I was older and had kids of my own, I would always be home for them when they were on school vacations. To me, it seemed like a no brainer. Teacher. Done.

But when I started telling people that's what I wanted to do, there was not one person who told me it sounded like a good idea. Not one word of encouragement, not one person who thought I should.

"You'll spend your life dealing with unreasonable parents!"
"You don't want to be around other people's little monsters all day, every day, do you?"
"You'll spend your evenings marking papers instead of having time to yourself."

Even my grandmother, who was A TEACHER, tried to talk me out of it, giving me a little speech I will never forget:

"Good God girl! When I was your age, there were only two jobs a woman could have. Teacher or nurse. You live in a time when you can do anything you want. Anything! PICK SOMETHING ELSE!" The last sentence was spoken so loudly and forcefully that she actually spit on me. I never said I wanted to be a teacher ever again.

Fast forward 20 years, and I'm now a volunteer teacher for Gracie's little playgroup. Every Tuesday, I get to dance around to The Wheels on the Bus, read stories to a sea of cute little faces looking up at me while they eat a snack, and then help them all make a little craft. And you know what? I love every single minute of it.

I can't even put into words how much I love being the Tuesday morning teacher. I love being around small children. They make me happy right to my core. Whenever I see a little one, I break out into an involuntary smile. I don't even mean to, it just happens. I give them the widest smile I've got, and I almost always get a smile back, and maybe even a little wave.

Whenever I'm around little kids, the worries of the world melt away. I feel lighter, happier, and I can't stop smiling. I like listening to the long winded stories of "and then…and then…and then…" I like it when they bring me their treasures to show me. I like asking them a question in the middle of a story, and hearing a chorus of: "it's a kangaroo!!!!"

I'm having so much fun that sometimes I wonder if maybe I should have stuck to my guns when I was younger, and done what I wanted to do. Of course, I don't regret my time working in newspaper. If I hadn't gone into journalism, I would never have met Nathan, and we wouldn't have gotten married or had Gracie. And it goes without saying that I loved all the years I spent working with him too.

But I sure do love being the Tuesday morning teacher.


Tracy said...

You should look into doing some substitute teaching when Gracie starts school - if you don't have #2 on the hip by then... ;)

Denice said...

Well, baby #2 by then is the plan…

Tracy said...

Are you planning a #3 or is 2 the limit?

Denice said...

Two is the limit. I'm getting too old for 3! Hell, I'll be in my 40's by the time #2 starts kindergarten - and my mom was in her early 40's when I was done high school. I don't even want to think about how old I'll be by the time I get to have grandchildren…

Tracy said...

That's the beauty of one. By the time Chris is finished school I'll be 46! Sadly Ray will be 58, but at least I'll still be fairly young!! And the best part for him is that he gets out of the house right around menopause time for me.