One thing I love about my husband is his vocabulary. He knows many more words than I do, which is interesting, considering he is not particularly a reader. He grew up in a home where words were important, and his mother was a published poet. She was also his Creative Writing teacher in 11th grade. His vocabulary shines when we watch Jeopardy and when we play Scrabble. I learned early in my marriage to accept defeat in certain things. I may have won Scrabble twice in 45 years.
He also likes to make up words. Sometimes it can be annoying if a certain word is repeated too often, but occasionally his word-creations can be amusing. This morning was a time when his playfulness with words struck me funny. I got a serious case of the giggles.
I was hurrying to get ready for work to attend a meeting to discuss a student I work with. I suspect this might be a student with dyslexia. As I gathered my clothes, I was telling my husband about the meeting ahead. As if often the case, I was running late. I pulled on my pants (elastic waist) and looked down. Something wasn’t right. They looked weird and felt weird. I had put them on backwards! You can imagine my frustration in the moment.
“So, does this mean you have ‘Dyspantsia’?” he asked.
A moment to process. Then the giggles started. I was laughing so hard that I had to struggle to get my bra on without twisting it. My first attempt failed.
“Oh no! ‘Dysbrasia,’ too?”
Note: I googled “dyspantsia.” Apparently, it has been coined before as a condition where one is attacked by a swarm of ants that get in one’s pants. I guess it now has a second meaning: the condition causing one to put pants on backwards.
One of the great joys of spring in Virginia is the brief show of bluebells. Every year I wait eagerly for the few days when the bluebells peak along the river. This year I wondered if the day would ever come. It’s been so cold and gray.
Last Friday, we had an early dismissal. I was like a kid anticipating a birthday. I couldn’t concentrate on my work, so I packed up. I actually left early. It was 80 degrees, sunny, clear blue sky, and the bluebells were calling me. I couldn’t resist.
The reward was immeasurable. My eyes could hardly take it in. If the sight of such beauty were food, I would be stuffed for weeks. All I would ever need would be a little bit of blue.
Today I attended a regional meeting for literacy coaches and reading specialists. As I looked around the room, I saw very few women and no men even close to my age. Most in attendance were probably the ages of my own children. It felt a little like middle school. Who should I sit with? Will they want old me at their table? I began to wonder if I should begin to think about retiring. After all, I am a grandmother to 11 and soon 12. Does that signal a different season for me? If I didn’t work, would my relationships with them change, deepen, or visits happen more frequently? I’m not sure.
I’m SO torn. I love teaching. I love learning. I love figuring out how kids learn. I love working with teachers on how we can be more effective teachers of reading and writing. I still love reading professional literature and have spent a fortune on picture books and professional books. How do you know when it is time to set your passion aside? Can it ever really be set aside? So how do you kindle your literacy passion outside the boundaries of school?
Therein is the problem. Literacy learning and teaching IS what energizes me and keeps my brain active. I’m in a school where I have positive relationships with most staff members. We are progressing in workshop teaching. We are progressing in interventions that reach individual students by need. We have had phenomenal success with our first graders this year and may even be able to significantly close a gap with our 3rd grade Spanish-speaking students. After intensive work on building background knowledge, using strategies for unlocking new vocabulary , enlarging decoding skills, and retelling and comprehension discussions, we feel pretty confident that many of the 12 students in the intervention will be able to pass their state Standards of Learning tests in May. That would be AMAZING.
Maybe this writing is helping me see that perhaps it is not time YET. I feel there is much work I want to do and can do still in teaching. But then there are all those other pursuits such as writing, taking a sewing class, learning to kayak, naturalist courses, community service, family history and genealogy, piano lessons, college work in music. Sometimes I feel cursed by the many interests that pull at my brain and heart.
Time to table this decision for the night. I’d be happy to hear from you and how you may have made the decision to retire.