Sunday, April 30, 2017

In Constant Bloom

"What does your boyfriend do?"

That's the question of the hour here in Springfield, every other graduate is sharing their most recent job offers and the only thing for certain in my life is that I am moving to Nashville.

"He's a music producer," I will answer, and their eyes light up. I usually kiss goodbye every opportunity to discuss my education career after that. After all, no one wants to hear about how you might be a teacher come August when you can instead tell them about the movie premier you attended last week at the Country Music Hall of Fame for Brad Paisley's visual album.

Thus begins my life as the Plus-One; the sweet, perky, well-mannered girlfriend at her musician's side. Not a single person in Springfield could see how my life could get any better. I have no job and I have no apartment, but dang, she gets to go to the coolest stuff! 

It's amazing how different the two worlds really are, seeing as I spent the past week in a city where you are ten times more interesting if you aren't in the entertainment industry. My boyfriend lives in a house with a musician and a film editor. Every friend of his I meet is an artist or editor or writer or entreprenuer. It would be far more welcomed to introduce myself as a freelance blogger than it would be to introduce myself as a teacher. That's the kind of thing his friends expect.

"I'm a kindergarten teacher," usually warrants one of two reactions:

"Why?!" is one of them, to which I will smile and explain that just as music is their gift and purpose, kiddos are mine. This reaction I understand. But the other makes my blood boil.

"Awww!" people will gush, "That's just so cute!" 

Yeah, it is cute, I suppose. We sing. We laugh. We get a lot of hugs. Our day ends at 3:30 and we get summers off. We may not get paid very much, and we aren't always very respected by the doctors and business owners and successful musicians of the world. But when these doctors and owners and musicians suddenly have a 5-year-old of their own... It becomes a lot more than cute. 

Suddenly, they're concerned with academics. How will their kids learn their letters? Numbers? Colors? Will they be able to read? Write? Count? Will they be able to use the technology tools of their generation? Will they appreciate the arts and the world around them? Will they take part in discussions and form thoughts for debate?

And what about their behavior? Where do they actually learn respect? How can you be sure they will gain responsibility? Will they be able to listen? To focus? Will they develop the positive mannerisms needed to lead, to follow, and to know when to do what in a team? Will they be kind? Helpful? Encouraging and humble?

And as if that's not enough for a new parent to worry about... When these kiddos graduate, they'll be expected to be confident. Curious. Passionate. They will need strong character and a good sense of humor. A positive mindset is key, social tact is required, and multiple interests are preferred.

I'm not in a cute profession. I'm in a beautiful profession. I don't make products to sell or medicine to distribute. My product is people. I do not do the same things doctors and business owners and musicians do, but I am the reason these professions exist, because I trained them. Could you imagine a doctor who didn't know how to read the patient chart, or couldn't locate their patient's arm to give them a shot? Could you imagine a business owner who couldn't keep up with the budget, or a musician who didn't understand counting or syllabic rhythms?

Of course not. That's what I do. That's what I teach.

And the best part is that I'm never bored. I'm never a perfect teacher. I'm always learning and changing and growing, right along with my kids. We are all flowers in the process of blooming; all learning to love ourselves despite where we are in the process of "success," as if success can truly be measured by reaching a certain point.

So no. I don't get many free passes to the Country Music Hall of Fame. But I do get to love my life every single day, because I love kids and I love learning. I love waking up and planning my own work for the day. I love never doing the same thing twice. I love getting paid to do what I've always wanted to spend my time doing. I love being in constant bloom.

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