(Song dedication: Tik Tik Boom by The Hives)
Yesterday was Tuesday. Yesterday was also my second day in a row teaching on call in a Kindergarten class. Yesterday was the first time I had taught consecutive anything in over two years. It went well.
I accumulated many anecdotes and stories of cute, funny and endearing moments reflecting the innocence and pure energy that children possess during this first year of elementary school, specifically at this time of the year. Classroom routines and expectations run like clockwork, they thrive on this, empowered by their sense of knowing…especially when a new person comes in and they get to be the teachers in many ways.
However, this post isn’t about that. For one, I am not ethically allowed to share information about other people’s children. And two, this is just the preamble to why I write today, post 2 day kindergarten teacher, on a Wednesday after a very cold morning walk with my dog to clear my head about the previous night’s events.
I felt proud of myself. My body, mind and spirit endured and I was able to bring my best teacher self to this classroom of children. I have done a lot of work to be able to do this. There were many challenging moments and I was able to roll with it, be in it, find my breath to give them what they needed. If you’ve ever walked into a K class with a teacher on call during afternoon centre time, you may not see a lot of deep breathing going on, just sayin. But there I was, diving deep and embracing the chaos. It was exciting because I actually really loved it!
I loved it enough to even think….hmmmm, maybe my last go-round (but not my first) teaching my own K class (very pregnant with our son Jack like, 8 years ago) wasn’t the truest reflection of my teaching abilities with this age and stage of learners? I should say not! No one is at their best with 18 tiny people underfoot whilst growing another human protruding from your midsection. My quads tho…best shape of their life. Teaching K while pregnant is like a serious squat challenge. I made it to the 3rd week in October before my Doctor said, your back is done and so are you, time to pull the shoot and focus on this pregnancy.
Since then, I’ve been a bit gun shy to even look in the direction of a Kindergarten contract…progressively moving more into upper primary and intermediate grades. That is until October of 2017, when teaching came to a complete standstill with the onset of chronic migraines.
So ya, I had a moment of maybe I should be thinking about teaching K. A moment.
After school, I picked up with the regular Tuesday routine. Take Jack and his friend to Lego club, instead of writing or editing, I met a friend for a visit and we enjoyed each others company until it was time to head back across the street to the public library. Even on the way home, I felt energized, stopping to pick up some groceries and laughing with my son about some stupid things (laughing is something I used to forget to do with him at the end of a long teaching day).
I walked in the house and put down my teaching bag and groceries. Jack went downstairs to practice piano (voluntarily) and so my husband and I had a moment to catch up in the kitchen, where he had Tom Petty playing, the hockey game on TV and cooking ground beef on the stove. Winning right?
The significance of Petty, Hockey and even beef is, his Dad. My Father-in-law passed unexpectedly 3 years ago and yesterday would have been his 71st birthday. He loved Petty, Hockey and Hamburgers…and his son…a lot. There was my husband, being vulnerable, remembering his Dad and honouring him the best way he knew how.
Now, not to water down this moment of the story but that’s really what this write comes down to….a watering down of things. Turns out my patience, my kindness, my compassion, my humour, my ability to communicate was completely watered down at this point so what happened next, no matter how trivial, was something I am not proud of.
He went to put some taco seasoning on the ground beef he was cooking. Cutting open the packet carefully with scissors and dropping the top in the garbage. He took out a measuring cup and put some water in it, he dumped in some of the rusty coloured seasoning and began to stir. What could possibly go wrong here? Me, is the short answer.
I frowned at the contents, noticing it didn’t look right, and told him so. It was too light, so I assumed there was too much water because he didn’t bother to read the instructions, I picked up the package to read the back but only the French instructions remained. The English instructions were in the trash can about two feet behind my confused husband. So he questioned me back in disagreement. I noted the packet still had seasoning in it and fired back incredulously, why didn’t you use all the seasoning??! As if he were making the cure for cancer and now it was completely ruined, years of research down the drain!
See where this is going?
It was so painfully trivial. Our ego’s fully engaged. Over. Taco. Seasoning.
He asked me point blank, Well how much water am I suppose to use? Oh no you didn’t! my inner-ego bristling with indignation. I couldn’t even fathom this question, this was his beef, literally and figuratively. Stop asking me questions you can answer yourself! You are only asking because I am here! You are being lazy! Find the instructions you threw away like garbage and figure it out man! For the love! My husband was already seeing where all this was headed, and after barking back at me a bit and laughing a bit too, he watched me walk away…because this was about Taco Seasoning, right?
Apparently not for me. I was so angry. And then he brought the seasoning mixture to the bedroom where I had retreated, and said I read the instructions and Ha! I actually had the exact right amount of water, I just needed to use all the contents…and added some other phrase along the lines of how he has great cooking intuition.
This also did not bode well for me. He had no idea I was so frustrated with him.
Moments later, our son came charging up the stairs from piano practice and ran down the hallway, dog in hot pursuit. He jumped on our bed to escape the puppy mouthing of Scout. I went into classic angry, burnt-out Mom mode, How many times do I have to tell you not to run in the house….you are training the dog to chase you…then you cry when she jumps on you…blah…blah…blah…Literally, I could feel my own inner observer open mouthed gaping saying really Sarah, you’re going there now?!
It was a hard downward spiral that I was consciously choosing at this point. I was struck hard with the backhand of my own behavioural and emotional disparity from even just an hour before all this small hiccupy stuff. That noticing made me feel worse.
This is not my husband’s first rodeo with tired, teacher Sarah. He knew, like I knew earlier with some of the Kindies at the end of their school day, that you have to pick your battles and in this context of time and variables better to let this go and figure out what the acting-out child (yes, I just called my last night’s self a child) needs. He corrected his course and he apologized for asking stupid questions and piling on. But really, it was me who needed to apologize. To him, my son and myself. Before I could do that, I needed to recalibrate. I picked up a book and within minutes, fell asleep with my glasses pressed to the side of my face. My husband came back to check on me, removing my book and glasses so I could rest better, because that is who he really is. Not lazy or annoying. He is kind, compassionate and a wonderful caregiver.
I woke up an hour later and rejoined my family and the hockey game, almost completely turned around, but my pride was still quite intact, not allowing me to address my bad behaviour fully, like a complete and absolute surrender to what I had allowed to go down.
So today in the interest of healing, letting go of anger and shame and being a better person through my own admission of guilt (and really, just imperfection – which is a huge trigger for me), I apologize for my short sighted, toxic behaviour last night. I own it. I recognize that I not only tainted what could have been a nice evening to honour my husband’s father, I tainted precious time with my family, and time for myself that I could have just enjoyed, sitting in the accomplished exhaustion of a well-taught few days. I am sorry and I forgive myself. This is important to do, because I know both my son and husband love me and already forgave me on Taco Tuesday.