About 16 times a day, I tell someone that I have THE BEST JOB in the whole world. At least 5 times I day, I decide I’m going to quit. Once every semester or so, I go on Monster Jobs and declare this is the year I’m going to find an “easy” job, one where I don’t take anything home with me and maybe I’ll even work in a cubicle where no one can talk to me (Also maybe I can pee in a grown-up bathroom and not have anyone wipe their boogers on me, but that’s asking for a lot).
Ooh, or maybe I’ll work at a bookstore. I’ll just walk around and recommend books to people and I could do story time! I used to, as a joke, say that I was going to work at a hardware store, except I really couldn’t actually help anyone find anything. I’m sure they would pay me just as much to work at Barnes and Noble, right?
The truth is, I think (I mean, I obviously can’t speak for everyone) that everyone feels this way about their job sometimes.
In reality, what I know is that my job is HIGH stress. But in return, it is SO unbelievably rewarding. Hardly a day goes by that I’m not reminded by students about how important it is for me to be the very best teacher that I can. It’s the little things-the GIANT hugs you get (even if they are booger wiping hugs), the little notes students leave you, how excited they are to see you, or when they accidentally call you mom. I can’t imagine there is anything better than a child telling you that you are their absolute favorite teacher or that they don’t want school to end.
There are certain times, though, when something extra special happens that just reminds you that you were absolutely made to do this job and spend your life with children. Two of these have happened to me in the last week, during one of THE most stressful weeks as an elementary school teacher (2nd only to the 1st and last week of school, and maybe state testing week…er…month).
Last week, I was at Target with my daughter, and we were in the chip aisle. I was maybe, kinda a little bit agitated because I was looking for those pretzels that only come out on holidays that are in the shape of a ring. I had checked two other stores and couldn’t find them and I was staring at all the pretzels while my kid tried to talk me into buying Cheetos.
I heard a whisper from the end of the aisle, “Oh, it’s Mrs. W!” I hear this a lot, you guys. It’s kinda like paparazzi. It happens at stores, restaurants, the movies, and when I’m out for a walk around the neighborhood. So, I look over, and it’s a Target employee who looks familiar to me. She came over and asked, “Are you Mrs. W?”
“Yep, hi! How are you? How are things?”
She told me she was good, and that I was still her favorite teacher, that she is 22 and I was her teaching in 6th and 7th grade. Then…she looked at me and asked, “I know this is so weird, but…can I take a selfie with you?”
I die, you guys. She wanted to snap chat her friends that she had seen me so she could brag about it. LOVE.
Oh, you guys. I’m still…I just don’t even know. Perhaps this won’t be such a big deal to you, but my heart is SO FULL that I will be living on this for months.
It’s the time of year when kids start bringing in Christmas gifts for me. I’m always a little torn about this because I hate it for the kids that want to bring me one but their parents won’t or can’t purchase it. I don’t NEED anything, of course, and what I tell the kids is what I want the most is a hand-written note from them or a picture they draw.
It doesn’t matter, though, because the kids want to bring me something to show their love. Over the years I’ve gotten some heartbreaking beautiful gifts-used stuffed animals, half-done coloring books, McDonald’s toys-and I have loved and cherished EVERY. SINGLE.ONE.
This week I walked into my classroom to see an empty spaghetti sauce jar on my desk. I knew immediately who it was from. Inside there was:
- some leftover Halloween candy
- a baggy of tortilla chips
- a candy cane
- a pen
- a note
I need you to know that:
- She picked only candy that I had talked about liking, almost as if she had saved it since Halloween.
- She hardly ever has a snack at school for milk break, and this was probably planned for that.
- A few weeks ago, I went up to her, snatched her pen and wrote a sentence with it, exclaiming, “Ooh, this is an awesome pen! I totally want one like this!” That pen is in this jar.
- And the note…
NO ONE has a better job than I do. You couldn’t convince me if you tried. I am so fortunate to spend my days with children who give me hope for our future.
Happy holidays, teacher friends. Keep remembering these moments-they’ll get us through to a much-deserved holiday break.