life · middle school

Welcome to middle school…

Recently one of my co-workers was talking about her daughter starting middle school, specifically accessorizing her locker, and it made me think back to my first experience with a locker in middle school.

Some of my friends were excited about starting middle school, but most were nervous. They had heard stories of what it was like from their older siblings, and I’m pretty sure those stories were greatly exaggerated! I was sad about leaving elementary school, but fairly indifferent when it came to starting middle school. When we talked about it, some of them were worried about being late to class or not being able to get their locker open. Even with all my neurotic tendencies, I didn’t share any of their concerns. I thought a locker was a silly thing to worry about. I had practiced opening locks on those fake mini lockers at Limited Too, and besides that it didn’t look too hard on Saved by the Bell! The biggest fear of mine was not having any friends in my classes or, more importantly, in my lunch period.

My first day of middle school had been going fairly well, and then came lunchtime. I figured I would stop at my locker to grab my lunch and switch my morning books with my afternoon ones. Sounds easy enough! I headed to the third floor where I knew my locker was, and walked up and down the hallway looking for the number I had written on the paper in front of me. “It must be near my homeroom,” I rationalized, so I started there. I walked up and down the hallway for a few minutes, and couldn’t find that number. “It was here this morning. I don’t understand how I could be missing it!” I continued walking, and passed a locked with a big soccer ball sticker on it. “I wish my locker stood out like that one,” I thought. Luckily, I saw my homeroom teacher and math teacher walking towards me. I decided I had to ask for help so I stopped them. They helped me find it fairly easily – it was two lockers down from the soccer ball sticker I passed three times!

“The bell already rang, but since it’s the first day they’ll be lenient,” they cautioned me.

“Oh, it’s okay, I’m going to lunch,” I replied.

“You still have to be there on time.”

“They take attendance at lunch?” I asked, incredulously.

“No, but if you walk in late without a pass too many times you’ll get detention.”

This didn’t make sense to me; I thought it was a stupid rule. It was lunch. If I missed a few minutes, I’d just eat faster. I later learned they had a lot of rules I didn’t quite agree with. “Oh, well can I have a pass then?” I was at the complete opposite part of the school so I figured it’d be safer to have one, just in case.

“I don’t have any. Do you?” one teacher asked, turning to the other.

“No. Just get down there as soon as you can and you’ll be fine.”

They walked away and I sighed. If I got in trouble, I was going to explain the situation and give their names.

I opened my locker. Something fell out and hit in on the head. I looked down where it rolled, and then up. My brown bag lunch on the top shelf of the locker had opened and a clementine had rolled out.

“Welcome to middle school,” I thought as I grabbed my books and sprinted towards the cafeteria.

life · preschool · teaching · toddlers

Unexpected Lessons You Learn as a Preschool Teacher

I started my first post here talking about how I want to write and/or work in television, and that’s true. But possibly I didn’t give enough credit to my current job in that post, so here’s a quick post about the joys of teaching toddlers and some of the things I’ve learned while doing so.
Yes, it’s a long day and it gets tiring and the pay isn’t great. There are plenty of rewards though. I got hugs every day. I got lots of compliments, from “I like your hair,” to “I love your necklace,” and even, “You’re my best friend!” The kids tell us that they love us often. All of these things are more than I get from most of my dates! So, if you want to feel better about yourself, go hang out with some toddlers! On the other hand, they’ll also speak their mind if there’s something that they don’t like. “Why is your hair in a ponytail today? Take it out!” “You didn’t wear your pink shoes today. I don’t like these.” And, who can’t use a dose of honest advice from time to time?!
We got a very generous class gift at the end of the school year, in addition to a few other gifts from individual students. But what really meant the most to me were the notes I got from parents, saying how much I helped their child that year. The most common comment I got this year was, “He/she comes home talking about Miss Lauren all the time!” In my head, I thought, “Well, I hope he/she is saying good things!”
Here are some things I didn’t expect to learn when I started teaching toddlers.

  1. How to spot (and change) a poopy diaper. And do so without gagging! It’s gotten to the point where I can walk into a room full of children, take one whiff, and go, “Someone pooped!” Finding the culprit and getting them to the changing table can be a bit more difficult! Between camp, work, and babysitting I’ve been changing dirty diapers for so long that when I have my own children that will be no big deal. Some of the counselors at camp this year are teenagers and they gag when trying to change the diapers. It would be mean to laugh at them, so I don’t, but it is nice to get a break from constantly changing dirty diapers!
  2. These children will eventually grow up and you never know what they’ll do. Maybe you won’t keep in touch with all of the children you’ve ever taught, but if you remember there names, who knows? You might hear on the news some day about them curing cancer or starring on Broadway and you can think, “Hey, I had a very small part in helping that person become who they are today!”
  3. Sometimes looking at the world through the eyes of a three-year old can be a good thing. They don’t seem to see others who are different as a bad thing; they just want to play with everyone. If there’s a child who doesn’t talk yet or one who still wears diapers or a boy wearing a tutu from the dress-up center, they just accept that and continue to play with them.
  4. Listen, really listen. You never know what you’ll learn about someone if you ask them questions and give them a chance to talk. One of my co-workers was saying how a certain student was very quiet, but I took time to talk to that child and she wasn’t that quiet! She told me all about her family and friends and what happens at home. The same goes for getting to know adults as well.
  5. “Use your words!” Using your words can be a powerful thing. We teach the children that sometimes you need to ask for what you want in order to get it, like if someone else has the toy they want. I’ve recently realized this can apply to adults too. How can someone I’m dating know what I want unless I tell him? Or what if you think you deserve to be paid for working extra hours, but the boss hasn’t said anything? It’s so uncomfortable speaking up in these situations, but if you don’t verbalize it and ask for what you want, you might not get it.
  6. The “proper” way to serve certain foods. And, keep in mind, this may be different for each child. Apparently there is a “wrong” way to open a bag of mini muffins!
  7. Children are very honest and never say anything near a child that you don’t want them to hear or repeat. They think nothing of telling you what bad words mommy and daddy say at home. They even rat on themselves by sharing what inappropriate thing they said or did that got them in trouble with their parents! I’ve learned more about some children’s lives at home than I expected to! They may not seem to hear you when you’re standing next to them and asking them to stop hitting their friend, but you can curse quietly from across the room and somehow that they’ll hear! (Luckily, this was a lesson I learned before it happened to me!)
  8. You can’t always please everyone. If two children are fighting over a toy, giving it to one child will make the other upset and taking it away will make both of them upset. Sometimes there’s no “fair” way to settle their disagreement if you didn’t see who had it first. This is a good life lesson to learn because you’ll never be able to keep everyone happy. I try my best to do so, but it’s just not possible all the time.
  9. How to be better at multi-tasking. At some point you’re going to be asked, “Why?” for the fiftieth time that day, and the child might not accept “I don’t know” as an answer. (The question then becomes, “Well, why don’t you know?!”) so you’re trying to answer them while someone else wants their snack opened (the correct way, please!) and there’s a fight starting in front of you. Someone else is probably trying togged your attention to ask for an “Anna braid” or an “Elsa braid,” and even though you’ve told them you’ll do it in a minute they will continue to ask until you start! Somehow, all of these things can be managed at once. It’s not something you’ll plan to learn how to do; it’ll just happen!
  10. We can learn lessons from the children too. As much as we teach them, they can sometimes teach us things. One of my students this year said, “When something seems bad, just turn it around and find something good!” Her classmate may have replied with, “That is not a good idea!” but I thought it was brilliant! We can also learn confidence from them. They are so sure of themselves. If their friend says something mean, they don’t seem to take it personally; they just insist that they’re right and a few minutes later the two of them are playing together again.
  11. And, finally, dream big! One of my students this year told me he is going to be Batman when he grows up, so why shouldn’t we all aim that high?!
blogging · dreams · life · writing

Welcome to my new blog…

Note: This site is still “in progress,” so hopefully in a few days I’ll have the ‘about’ page and stuff finished, but for now I wanted to at least post this!

Starting a blog, and actually updating it more than twice a year, was one of my New Year’s resolutions. Considering it’s June, I either suck at keeping resolutions or I’m just really good at procrastination! (The latter is definitely true). Until now I’ve always had an excuse – a TV show I want to watch, a book I want to read, or “I’m tired. Maybe I’ll go to bed at a decent hour tonight.” But now I’m not letting myself get away with these excuses anymore (the only exception being if I’m out doing something fun, which was a resolution I’ve actually been sticking to a bit more!).

I’ve let fear, of failure and other things, hold me back for too long and now I’m determined to change that. When I was younger my dream career was to be an entertainment journalist. As I got older and saw how much of the information that they report on is fabricated or just based on speculation, I changed my mind. I didn’t feel comfortable helping to spread rumors about people. So, I thought that writing for a TV show would be better. I love TV and I love to write so it sounded prefect. I knew it was a very competitive field though, and I thought, “Why would they hire me? There are probably so many people out there who are better than me.” I took a “safer” route and majored in education. Now, after teaching in some way (TA, substitute, etc.) for seven years (wow, that makes me feel old!) the dream of working in TV/entertainment is still often on my mind and I wish I had pursued it in college. At 25 I convinced myself that I was too old to try to break into the field so I’d just have to stay where I was. Now, at 28, I don’t agree with that. I don’t think there’s a set age that you should stop chasing your dreams. Instead of asking, “Why would they hire me?” now I’m asking, “Why not me?” I mean, I can come up with reasons, but I don’t want to let them stop me from trying this time. You never know what’s going to happen next so how could I be so sure I won’t be successful? I’m not quitting my day job right now, but I am going to start working on my writing more and putting myself out there for jobs. It’s a risk, and that’s a little scary, but sometimes you have to take risks to succeed. At the very least, I’m determined to write more and even if it’s not for TV right now, at least it’s a step in the right direction.

In the past few years it’s been harder to write, even simple things like blog posts. It became, “Will people like what I’m writing?” and “How many hits will this story get?” or possibly the worst one, “What will people think of me if I write that?” I would write and re-write everything. It had to be funny enough, but not cheesy. It had to be deep, but not too dark. I didn’t end up posting a lot of stuff I wrote due to this perfectionism. If something did get posted and didn’t get a lot of comments then I thought it wasn’t good enough and I’d get discouraged from writing anything more. In high school and college I was praised by teachers for having my own voice come through in my writing, but in all the trying to please others I think I lost my own writing style a bit. So, that’s something I’m going to work on. I guess I should also admit that even this post sat in a Word document for over a week before I actually posted it!

I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to write in this blog in the future, but I’m going to go with whatever pops into my head and I’m going to try to find my voice again. Not every post is going to be something that everyone likes. None of them will be perfect. This is just me. This blog might chronicle some of the career journey or whatever else is happening in my daily life, in addition to the fun (read: torture) of online dating, stories from my childhood, and any other random ideas that come into my head (probably a lot of pop culture things). I hope you enjoy!