Tuesday, May 27, 2008


There are some years in a person's life that fall into a category unlike other years. One could call them "pivotal," "benchmark," "life-altering." I would like to consider this school year of my life to be "prolific."

I think the word "prolific" is misused quite often (and probably by me on more than one occasion). Quite literally, as I take the word apart, I see "pro-" which I know typically to mean "for," and I see "lific" which seems to mean "related to life." "Prolific," as defined in a dictionary has a variety of literal and figurative meanings. On its most literal end, it means "bearing an abundance of offspring." I suppose with that definition, my mom, with eight children, would be considered prolific. On its most figurative end, it means "intellectually productive." The latter is the definition I choose to use for this year.

I believe that in every situation in life, we are meant to learn something (or some things). Here is my stream of consciousness about what I learned through my year.

1. Our children are the best and the worst of us. Ignatius has a heart of gold. He is also a nervous wreck and a perfectionist. Max has a most infectious laugh. He also has a wicked temper. As Scott and I indulged in the sea of genetic guilt regarding our children's anxiety and autism, we also had random, peaceful moments. In these moments we realized why God gave these children to us and what he wants from us as their parents. He lets us look in a mirror on a daily basis, especially since Max has become a parrot of tone, word choice, and mannerism as he learns the spoken word. They are us. God help them. :)

2. "If everything is 'under control,' everyone will be happy" is a fallacy. So many years of my life have given energy to the "try to make everyone happy" ideal. I believed this was an achievable goal. It literally was running me... no let me be more accurate, it was a jet engine hurtling full-throttle into the ground. Each time I realized people were not content with something, I had to try to control it more. I had to be the best teacher for every student with special needs that I had. I had to know what my own children needed, and I had to get it for them yesterday. If someone close to me was upset, I was upset, particularly if I could not fix the problem that created the stress for that person. If a job was being done poorly, it was my responsibility to help that person create a workable, productive situation. No one can live up to this level.

3. Everybody hurts. When my speeding plane finally burst into flames this November, there was a HUGE outpouring of support from more people than I can possibly list here. Some people shared their own struggles with depression, or children with autism/anxiety, or nervous breakdowns. Some people just constantly let me know they were there. Some dragged my butt out of bed because they knew if they didn't, I would drown in my sense of failure. Others had the perfect words of advice at the perfect time. Some made sure that I was left alone without the worry of school. Others helped remind me of my scheduling goals (my "curfew") upon returning to work. Many just let me know they were rooting for me. A lot of people just listened.

4. Breathe in, breathe out. 'Nuff said?

5. Criticisms from others are not always accurate and should not be life-altering. So, a parent thinks something negative? I know I work my behind off to do what's best for students. No need to spend extra energy agonizing over harsh criticism. Also, I am an artist. I believed that before ninth grade. I stopped believing it due to the careless assessment of one art teacher who was too lazy to give me any formative feedback on my work. Never again. I know that creating makes me happy. I am happier as I create than I am doing most things in my life. I will pursue this now at 38. I should have pursued it at 18. Never again will I allow one person to have that much power over me.

6. No one fits in to tiny little boxes of "normal." "Normal" and "typical" are arbitrary statements. I guess if you are the loudest voice, you get to set the "normal" bar. You get to decide that children who do not score a certain score on a test get more/less opportunities than other testtakers. You get to decide that someone's child doesn't "fit." Truthfully, though, "normal" is a moving target that changes from community to community. I like the masses of "abnormal" much better. You could say, "Abnormal is the new normal."

OK, I am sleepy, so I will cut this off now. I just really wanted to get some things down as my goal of making it through this school year with some of my sanity in tact becomes a reality. Yippee!

No comments: