Adventure. noun. “An unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” Conditional because it’s not unusual or exciting, most days.
It’s been quieter here. I’m probably the only one who noticed.
I was going to write a cheery May Goals post this week. I was going to be victorious and cocky because I did every one of my goals for April. I worked out twice a week and checked out the Red Balloon Bookshop and brought my reject clothes to Goodwill and made salad for my siblings and practiced fancy letter formation.
And then I stopped. Because I could think of one goal for May. And going off dairy for 3 weeks as a skin-improving experiment does not an entire blog post make. For this blogger, anyway.
The issue is: life feels hard and ordinary.
I tell those who ask about my job, “Every day is an adventure.” It isn’t a lie. But sometimes it’s an adventure that I don’t particularly want to be on. Sort of like when a camping trip starts off as the cute kind of adventurous, when there are lots of stars and you’re eating s’mores and you should be in an Eddie Bauer ad. But it truly becomes an “adventure” when the bears get into your food and there’s a leak in your tent during a thunderstorm and there’s that one mosquito that keeps buzzing in your ear and you want to set things on fire.
This current adventure won’t end for too long. There are four weeks remaining of school, and I have hours left before I’ll be scraping the bottom of my energy reserves. I’ve been avoiding writing, trying to form neatly processed thoughts on this season, because the challenges haven’t changed. The kids are still crazy. Maybe more so, with the sunny days when they beg to go outside and get less than the usual little done. I haven’t slain the dragons that slither through my classroom when the desks are empty and hiss that maybe I’m bad at this. Maybe my classroom management sucks and will always be pitiful. Maybe I’m incredibly boring even though I’m trying to keep kids interested. Maybe my seventh graders are reading this because they continue to Internet stalk me, and they’re nodding and saying “Yeah, really, Ms. Christenson, you are terrible. Your class is lame, and we don’t really like you.”
I know, I know, I know. This isn’t true. My boyfriend tells me every time I talk to him. A kid in my hardest hour asked, “Do you complain about us to your boyfriend?” and I tried to skillfully avoid the question because I do. And he’s nice and tells me that I’m trying and that I haven’t stopped caring and that middle schoolers are crazy weirdos and it’s not my fault. My parents say the same. They say it will get better. Some days I believe them.
I saw a college friend at church last week, and I asked him how teaching was going. We both started in the middle of the year with similar situations. “It’s so hard,” he said. And I exhaled and nodded because it is. He said that he’s not getting through things, that he doesn’t like how he responds to the challenges of keeping a classroom under control, that he’s so ready for the year to be done. Me too. This is the hardest dang adventure.
There’s this quote I keep seeing. It says: “Are you living just a little, and calling it a life?”
Right now it makes me sigh. This teaching thing is supposed to be a profession where we make a difference! and inspire! and do something that matters! Instead I spend my days saying life-giving words like “You need to stop talking,” and “Take your seat,” and “Take your headphones out of your ears” and “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP YELLING. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?” (internally).
It feels like living just a little. We are not having interesting conversations. We are not diving deeply into literature. We are barely even getting in good directions and effective modeling because they interrupt me too much. It is the adventure of can we survive this day without the teacher losing her mind.
At the end of a day, my life feels so full. I’ve emptied myself, and I end on the couch, hoping for just 10 more minutes to recharge before I have to begin again. But I wonder if I am living just a little. I don’t know how to make it a life. I don’t know how to fix these challenges. I don’t think I can.
All I can do: show up. Drink tea, every morning. Try not to count the days until summer (try). Be kind even when I want to yell. Keep trying. Keep caring. Keep hoping that someday (maybe) this will turn from fight-for-survival adventure to the kind that’s fun. The kind that builds a life.