So two years ago I had the worst class of my life. I mean, they were downright naughty children. They didn't like each other, they didn't care about school and they didn't care about pleasing anyone (not even their parents). They are 6th graders now and I feel sad for those teachers every day, but also glad they only have those special friends for an hour each day.
I learned a lot that year. First of all, that I am not Super Woman. I can't do or fix everything, even though I often want to. See, my childhood...in a word...sucked. Yeah. It sucked. Not that I really thought that when I was living it but looking back, I realize how messed up my family was (and still is) and I shudder to think about it. I also praise the Lord that I got myself out of that cycle. One of the things I learned with that class from Hell is that it is not my job to fix everything that is wrong with the world. This is still a battle for me sometimes, especially when it comes to something I feel passionate about.
See, in my childhood, there wasn't a lot of praise. There was manipulation. There were conditions to affection. If you didn't do A just so, you were going to hear about it for weeks, months, possibly even years after it should have been over with. Again, didn't think much of it as a child because it was just the way it was. When I had The Oldest, I was in 10th grade. Suddenly I was thrust into adulthood because while I lived with my parents and they supported us financially, we were more or less on our own. No support from her father and over the years I have realized that was for the best. [You can disagree with me there but I don't want to hear it if you do.]
Once I had her, everything changed. First of all, I developed a huge chip on my shoulder -- the world was my enemy. I had a hard time being around other people. Looking back, I think this was the beginning of my road to being where I am today. I knew something was messed up about my life, but was not old enough or mature enough to pinpoint what it was. The chip was my defense mechanism. I kept a lot of people at bay by being rude and snotty. And it worked for me at that time. A lot of people who know me in real life today can't believe that I was like that. Yeah, I still have an attitude sometimes but only when it is really warranted and 99% of the time it is because I am advocating for someone who can't advocate for themselves.
But along that road somewhere, I picked up some coping skills in the form of ambition, motivation and drive. I'm not sure where they came from. I do know that they changed everything for me. Despite my attitude problem, I somehow knew that I had to push out of the cycle my family was in. I was not going to treat my own child the way my parents had treated me my entire life. No way. So I finished high school, on time, despite having The Oldest when I did. I went right to college. I got an associates degree in business before realizing that this was not really where my passion was. I had wanted to be a teacher since I was 8 years old but went the business route thinking it was "more practical". Once I met The Husband, he encouraged me to do what I really wanted to do and thus I went back to school to get my teaching license.
The problem with the ambition is that I want to do it all. When I learn something new, I want to know everything about it and suddenly I want to "fix it". For example, last spring when I was told that Middle Child IS, in fact, dyslexic, my first reaction was "oh, I need to go get a Learning Disabilities endorsement so I can really understand her". It isn't so much that I wanted to fix her but that I wanted to know as much about her disability as possible in order to make sure she is successful. With her new diagnosis of Asperger's, even though I have known in my heart for years that is what is going on with her, I bought a bunch of books on Amazon because now I just HAVE TO know everything I can possibly know to help her. And you earned yourself a cookie if you thought for a second that I just might have looked up a special education endorsement in Autism Spectrum Disorders because I did. Not that I really would pursue it but that feels like I'm doing something, being proactive and trying to give her the best life possible.
These traits carry over into so much of my life now. When I am especially passionate about something, I just want to fix it if I feel like anything isn't exactly how I would have it be.
Example: I ♥ DDI Teacher Consulting. I do. [You may recall my brazenness in telling Kathleen to just hire me already!] But because I am passionate about their products and the results they provide me, my head spins with ways to "make it better" or "fix it" (and let me add this disclaimer because I know at least one of the sisters reads my blog -- which is just unreal to me! -- I don't think anything is wrong with DDI the way it is. I would just tweak stuff because it's in my fix it nature!). I plan to order materials from them for myself, not through my school because I want my own if/when I move on and there is no easy "online ordering" system. I am all about online ordering. I would totally add that. I would add instant shipping calculators too and ordering by debit/credit card and on and on.
See what I mean? I can't help it. If it means something to me, or is something that makes my job easier, or that I really find passion with, I want to make it as awesome and user friendly as possible.
This is part of why I spent a bit more than a year in therapy -- to learn that I can't fix it all, I don't need to fix it all and I shouldn't try to fix it all. But it's something I still struggle with every day. Probably because of my emotionally abusive childhood. I have to make it the best it can possibly be because otherwise, I won't get praised. It just won't be good enough unless it is THE BEST.
And I will work hard every single day of the rest of my life to make sure that my 3 girls never, ever feel like they have to be the best at everything in order for me to be proud of them or appreciate their strengths. I never had unconditional love. I will make sure they do.
It also translates into my classroom. It kills me when my students try so hard and still don't do well because no one in K or 1st bothered to put the child up before our Child Study team to get the child some help (or worse, they did and the resource staff let the child fall through the cracks). I won't give up. I will give every one of those kids a reason to feel like they are worth something. I have to. No one deserves to grow up feeling inferior and insecure like I did (and often still do). It's why when I really want to be a part of something, I just go after it, often without really thinking about how it might come across to someone else. I just want to help, especially if it means helping a child to have a good life and to make gains when someone told them they would never amount to anything.