Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shortsightedness and American arrogance. I am guilty

As a rule, I do not talk politics when talking teaching; however, I had an interesting experience this weekend that got me thinking.

I had lunch with a friend whose parents are Canadian. My friend and I share similar political views and both of us are extremely against socialized medicine. Normally my friend and her parents agree on most things political, but this is one thing they completely disagree upon. Her parents keep telling her how much "the U.S. is going to LOVE socialize medicine." Her parents rave about how excellent it has been for their own health, and they love the fact that everything is "free." In spite of the fact that her mom had to wait almost two years to get her cancerous growth looked at because there were other Canadian citizens with more "life threatening" problems, and in spite of the fact that after her dad's hip replacement he was given absolutely no physical therapy and now struggles to get into a car, they still believe socialist medicine is the best thing for citizens. They are excited, actually giddy, at the possibility that their daughter will be able to experience such greatness. My friend is just as perplexed as I am about the whole situation. She is actually angry at the treatment her parents received under socialist medicine. She has said as much to them, but they still love it. They have no complaints. Interesting.

Now, I will not go into more of my feelings on the issue, other than to say I am clearly not a fan of socialism (which is an understatement to say the least).

What surprised me after pondering this conversation was my own American arrogance and shortsightedness. I tacitly and unconsciously assume that if you are Mormon, you are in favor of democracy. Now, it is not as if I am ignorant of or bias against other governments, I just always associate agency with democracy.  I have never lived in another country, I was raised a patriot, and I love democracy. During and after the missionary lessons, I became more so. Democracy and the Restored Gospel work together.

But as I was thinking about my friend and her parents, trying to understand their perspective, the 12th Article of Faith kept popping into my head.

"We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

It does not say the democratic law; it just says the law. And then it hit me; it is not about socialism and democracy. There are things about my government that I don't like, just as there are things about other governments that I don't like. I am subject to the law and the confines of my own government, just as my friend's parents are.

You can love socialism and still be a good and faithful Latter Day Saint. You can love a monarchy and still be a good and faithful Latter Day Saint. You can love a parliament and still be a good and faithful Latter Day Saint.  To be a good and faithful Latter Day Saint, you are subject to the law of the land and you should obey, honor, and sustain the law of your land...wherever that may be.

Now, I know that I simplified this issue quite a bit, but without writing a book on the whole thing, this seemed to work. But please, if you feel so inclined to comment, whether do agree or disagree, please do so.

I love little inspirations that make me feel smarter.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

As I was writing

As I was writing my last post  my youngest son read over my shoulder and said, "Mom, you have a lot of favorite students." I smiled. He then said, "I know who is going to be your favorite student when I am in high school."

I leaned over and kissed his head and said, "You will be." And then I said, "You and your brother will always be my favorite everything."

And it is true. They are my favorite everything, and everyone knows it. My husband and sons are my life. They are the reason I breathe in and out everyday. They are the reason my heart beats every single day.

Even though I know that my children will not be in my class, I look forward to them being in my school. I know that there will be challenges, but there will be blessings as well. I look forward to them coming to my classroom and asking for money to go to the school store. I look forward to them asking me for a pass to class because they are running a couple of minutes late. I look forward to having the weekly lunch I plan to have with each of them when they are in high school.

Of course, all of that is years away. Right now I am thoroughly enjoying sports practices and Cub Scouts, tournaments and games, the annoying Suite Life of Zach and Cody and iCarly, and quiet nights spent watching American Idol and Wipe Out.

I am enjoying my youngest leaning his head on my arm and reading as I type. I am home. It is not quiet, but it is peaceful. I am a mom who spends most afternoons running from one place to another and who doesn't sit on the couch until after dinner is eaten and the kitchen picked up. I am a mom who still wakes up in the middle of the night to check on her sons. To put the blankets back on them after they have kicked them off. I am the mom who walks through the house seventeen times a day turning off lights that the boys have left on. I am the mom who kisses fevered foreheads and rubs the back of her sick children until they fall asleep.

I am a happy mom.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Favorites

Some teachers say that they do not have favorite students. Those teachers lie. We all have favorite students, and none of us can explain why some kids are our favorites and others are not.

My only explanation is that some kids crawl into my heart and stay there. It is like friendship; sometimes we just cannot help it. JJ is just one of many favorite students.

My LDS students struggle with JJ...and they do not understand why I adore him as much as I do. In their world, I should only adore kids who have high standards. Kids who don't drink. Who don't smoke. Who don't have sex. My favorite students should be the students that share my standards.

It is true, some of my favorite students have been LDS. Good LDS kids. Kids going on missions and who will marry in the Temple one day.

But, it is also true, that most of the kids that I adore. Most of my favorite kids are the kids with questionable standards. Kids with tempers. Kids who make wrong choices on a regular basis. Kids who don't go to college. Kids who a lot of people forget.

I have been asked on more than one occasion why I care so much about kids who seem not to care about anyone but themselves. And I struggle to answer in a way that people understand. And sometimes when I am not thinking about it at all, the answer comes to mind mind with crystal clear clarity. I care about these kids because everyone else writes them off. I champion for these kids because no one else does. I love these kids because they need to know more than anything that they are loved. The good kids are always favored. They always know that they are loved. There is a line of teachers fighting for them. Fighting to have them in class. Fighting to get them into the best schools. I have learned in my short teaching career that I get the most satisfaction out of fighting for kids who do not typically have a champion. For kids who have seen the ugliness of the world and are not afraid of it. I am drawn to the kids who are not the good kids. These kids are not the ones teachers fight for; however, these are the kids that I love having in my classroom.

When I first became a teacher, I remember saying a prayer. I remember asking Heavenly Father to bless me to remember that every students I meet is His child. To remember that He loves each one of these kids as much as He loves me. I continue to say that prayer every single day. And I know that the Lord has blessed me with this knowledge. I know that the Lord has put me here right now, to let each of these kids know that they are loved.

I am grateful that I am drawn to these kids. They have changed my life. They have made me a better teacher. A better Mother. A better Latter Day Saint.

And maybe it is as Mark Twain once said, "Love is not a product of reasoning and statistics. It just comes...and cannot explain itself."

I am happy with that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For a change...I am not talking about change.

I was surprised at school today by a graduate. He walked into my classroom when my back was turned. I turned around and there he was! I was so excited that I am pretty sure I let out a small scream as I pulled him into a hug.

Now, if you know me, you already know that I love it when graduates come back to visit. But this visit was a special one. JJ joined the military just after his graduation, and I was honored to be there when he graduated boot camp. He just got back from his first deployment. To say that I am immensely proud of him is an understatement.

He told me he didn't call because he wanted to surprise me. While I knew he was in town, I was still surprised to see him in my classroom today. I adore this young man. He has become a friend. A good friend. It is truly my honor to have taught his young man.

We chatted about his adventures overseas. We laughed at his own idiocy that got him into trouble with his CO. I kicked him out of my class for swearing a few times and making a couple inappropriate comments that I do not allow in my classroom. He knows that he will still get kicked out for saying these things, but sometimes he cannot help himself. The funny thing is, he was good today. This is a young man who typically drops the F-bomb every other word or so. He swears more than anyone else I have ever met, yet he works incredibly hard to tame his mouth in my presence. That very fact says a lot about him.

With JJ visiting, two other former students came to visit today, too. Two more students that I adore just as much as him. Three students I adore, two boys, JJ and R and one girl JK, were sitting in my room today as I taught. They all graduated together, and they are three of my favorite members of my favorite graduating class. I love these kids...even though they are not kids anymore.

While sitting and observing my class, he and R were talking and they said something that felt true today. As I introduced them to my class, I made the comment that while he left (graduated) high school in 2009, I stayed.

JJ then said, "Yeah, but her heart left in 2009."

The class of 2009 was my class of kids, and he was one of them. It is true. I love teaching every single student, but a part of my heart left when that class left. I miss them a lot sometimes. But, in missing them I am reminded of why I love my job so much.

I never stop teaching. I never stop learning. I love these kids; they are a part of who I am. They will continue to learn and grow and live their lives, and I will continue to teach the students who come after them. And as I do so, I hope to continue to make as much an impression upon other students as I have made on them.

And as I continue teaching, I will continue to hope and pray that I will always have students who will change my life, the way these three graduates have.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Still Waiting

Well, we are still waiting the change that is inevitably going to come our way. My husband and I have prayed about this separately, talked about it together, and then prayed about it together. We are both certain that a change is happening. We are also both sure that this is a necessary change in our lives. We also both feel that this will be a positive change for our family.

Now if we only knew what is going to change.

I know that there is a season for all things. Is my season as YW President up? I don't know. I know that I have learned so much from the girls. I have learned how to be a better mother, a better woman, a better teacher, and a better person. I hope that the girls have learned half as much as I have. I know that if I am going to be released that it is part of the Lord's plan for me. I also know that if I am not going to be released, then I will continue to learn and grow with these amazing and inspiring young women.

I am blessed either way, and either way, I will continue to serve the Lord to the best of my abilities.

Still...I wait.

P.S. Tonights activity was fabulous! It was fun. It was spiritual. It was far better than I imagined it to be. Happy day!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Comfort

I have been feeling oddly comfortable in my calling as YW President as of late. There has not been controversy with mothers who doubt my ability. The girls have all been getting along remarkably well. I have not felt overwhelmed or stressed at all. I am down a couple of callings in the YW organization, but even with two people missing, we are running smoothly.

This calm can only mean one of two things:

1. It is the calm before the storm, and I am in for a BIG storm.

or

2. I am going to be released soon.

Interesting. I wonder which it will be; however, I will not stress. I will enjoy the peace and prepare for Wednesday's activity. It is going to be a fun one!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Opportunity

I was presented with an opportunity today. An opportunity that I had no idea that I wanted. I have always said that this particular thing was not something I would seek if given the choice. Well, then the opportunity was presented, and I discovered that I want it BAD. Really bad. I am willing to fight for this opportunity. I am willing to give up other things in order to have this specific opportunity.

I was totally taken aback by my reaction. I did not expect such a strong reaction. I want this. I really want this. I really, really want this. Which means it is going to hurt a lot if/when I don't get it.

I am trying to prepare myself for the possibility of not getting it, but it doesn't change the fact that I want it. I think that I deserve it too...that doesn't help. I am confident that I can do this. I am confident that I can do this well. I really want to do it. I will be incredibly disappointed if I don't get it.

Of course, now that I know that I want it, I have to wait. This sucks.

Friends

I have something like 300 friends on Facebook, but are they actually my friends? Not really. Some are former students, and Facebook is just an convenient way to keep tabs on them...an easy way for them to get help or ask advice. Some are friends from my ward. People that I see on a weekly basis but, in truth, are people that I talk to less than once a month. These are the people whose feelings will be hurt if I "unfriend" then or ignore their friend request. And of course, among my 300 or so Facebook Friends, there are old high school friends, work friends, and actual friends I see on a regular basis.

Friends have always meant a great deal to me. I didn't have the most supportive family growing up, am I considered my friends the most important people in my life. The word friend used to mean so much more, not just to me, but to everyone. People did not used to call people friends unless they really meant it. Otherwise it was just an aquaintance or "a person I know".

Being called a friends used to mean trust, understanding, love, compassion, and most of all, it meant charity.

I am incredibly grateful that the actual PEOPLE I call friends (not the computer generated 'friendships') have not deviated from my original definition. I do, however, think a new word should be created. Computers have taken the true meaning of friendship and tarnished it. I am guilty of it too. I accept that, but I guess I am incredibly grateful to know the difference between my different categories of friends.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I am back

I have been remiss in my blogging duties; however, I am committed to being more of a presence on this blog. I do love writing, and the three things I love most are the Gospel, my family and my teaching.

The Gospel.
I am so grateful for the missionaries who introduced me to the Gospel. I am grateful for the many friends in high school who supported me, taught me, and loved me. I am grateful for the example they were to me both then and now. I am grateful for my Savior. I am grateful for the Christmas season in which I get to celebrate His birth and His life with my family and friends. I am grateful for a prophet to guide me. I am grateful for the Restoration. I am grateful for my testimony. I am grateful for the scriptures. There are so many wonderful things about the Gospel, and I am ever so grateful for the the truth of the Gospel.

My Family.
I marvel at my family. The love we have in our home is tangible. I love the laughter of my children. I love the warmth of my husband. I love that we are teaching our children to read the scriptures. I love the Gospel discussions in our home. I love our family prayers. I love the sweet voices of my children as they express their gratitude and ask for specific blessings. We are not a perfect family, but I love the imperfection in my home. I love that imperfection because I learn from it every single day. In spite of not being perfect, I have the best family in the world.

My Teaching.
This is one of those things that I am grateful for in spite of difficulties. This has not been my easiest year, but it is the year I have grown the most, in both my school teaching and my church teaching. I have learned to set more defined boundaries. I have learned to better balance church calling and school. I am grateful to be both a spiritual and secular teacher. I am grateful for the gift of teaching that I have been given.