Honest, it takes a village, tiny human teacher

fall is coming

Here is the thing: Right now, in this moment, I am choosing to have hope for fall.

Not just for myself but on behalf of those around me.

We all need some hope after a summer of drought and I’m going to find it for us.

When we were kids, the physical seasons meant more.

We waited for summer break, fall meant seeing friends again and the thrill or terror of a new school year. Winter meant Christmas and break. Spring brought sports and school plays and the rounding out of the school year.

And then summer came once more.

Life was built around the actual seasons and it worked. We knew when one thing would end and another begin.

But in adulthood, seasons mean something different.

The ever lovely full of wisdom teacher Victoria has one of my favorite illustrations and reminders to me in regards to tiny humans.

Victoria’s tiny humans are 12-24 months. When they experience things like teething or a diaper rash or a sickness they can’t verbally explain, she likes to remind the other teachers in her classroom of this when a tiny human is incapable of being consoled (the following is as direct of a quote as I could remember)

“They don’t know what’s happening and they don’t know if the pain is ever going to end. All they know is it’s happening now and this is how life is now. They’ve only been around for so many months, so like, this must be how it is now.”

New tiny humans don’t know about seasons, they don’t know the pain is going to go away. They probably think this is just how it is.

And that sucks.

I’ve realized that there are things in my life, seasons in my life that have felt so permanent that I feel that same way.

“This must be how it is now”

And that sucks.

Have you ever thought that? Like you don’t know if something in your life is ever going to end. It just showed up, you don’t know where it came from, but that must be how it’s going to be.

It’s very defeating.

And that’s why, to the best of my ability and strength I am going to fight for hope for myself and on behalf of others.

I’m going to decide that the changing of seasons does change something.

That is does mean something.

Just like when we were kids.

The fall can once again mean something new. Something fresh. Another chapter.

I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt we have the ability to turn our own pages. We can choose to say “all done friends” to something, someone, somewhere.

So, to you my sweet friend reading this, whether or not I’ve ever met you, I want to remind you of something.

This is not how it’s going to be forever.

This is not how your life is now.

This is not a new appendage you have to carry.

This will end.

You can turn the page.

Fall is coming.

Honest, it takes a village, preschool, tiny human teacher

shame less

I do not like shame.

I wrote a piece awhile back entitled “I met shame in the sixth grade”. It was talking of the moment that shame came into my life. The moment that I can use as a dividing line from being enough/not being enough.

I think that before that I knew shame. I knew that it affected me.

I was told that words could never hurt me, but in reality words have had a more profound effect on my life than any physical thing that has happened to me.

So yes, I do not like shame.

I mean, that should be pretty standard right? But, did you know that you probably have shaming language spoken to you or that you in fact use it yourself?

Think of this scenario. You, as an adult, are giving a report at work. And in the middle of a sentence your boss gets up and says “no, no, no” and proceeds to “correct” you on what you were speaking on.

How do you think you would feel? Being told by a superior in front of a group of your peers “no, you are doing that wrong”.

You would probably feel ashamed.

Now, picture being in grade school and that happening.

Do you think you’d ever want to do a presentation in class again?

What if, you were at camp and you were talking to your counselor and someone from the stage pointing you out to stop talking before they started again-but you had been telling your counselor you weren’t feeling good?

Now, picture being a kindergartener.

It’s your birthday and you are coloring a bird blue.

The person next to you raises her hand and tattles on you.

And then the teacher makes you start again because “no, the bird can’t be blue” and precedes to take your paper and give you a new one.

I know you are probably wondering where I am going with this.

Am I talking about living a life of participation trophies?

That’s not it at all.

I’m talking about choosing our words more wisely.

More specifically, I am talking about doing our best to take shaming language out of our vocabulary, specifically around the tiny humans and kids that we are around.

Shaming language is telling a child they are “too big” to be somewhere when what you are actually trying to tell them is that they are growing up. Reprimanding them from across the room instead of kneeling to their level.

Shaming language is talking about a child’s poor choices in front of them, like they aren’t there, even though they can 100% understand what’s happening. Shaming language is telling a child “they should know better” or “how could you be so dum

A lot of us, be it teachers or parents or people that interact with kids on a daily basis, grew up in a generation where I don’t believe we truly knew the effects constant amounts of shame had on a child.

And now, as an adult, I think we are learning. I myself, am still learning each day, with how I communicate and speak to the tiny humans around me.

We are learning, that the effects of using shame as a tactic isn’t helpful. It causes kids to shut down. To stop talking, stop participating, and attempting to not take up space.

Shame that was present in my life as a small child is what lead me to shut down and what lead me to do my best not to take up space.

And lastly, before you even go there, I know that children are resilient.

Trust me, I know.

(Maybe, like don’t get into this with me, because I have strong words about kids and resiliency)

But, shouldn’t we, as caregivers, parents, kind humans, do all we can to not shame the kiddos in our space? Shouldn’t we build them up and give them the tools to counteract shame instead of putting shame on them causing them to have to find the tools on their own?

There are enough times when we will screw up, or when other adults around or even other kids will put shame upon the kids in our life. Where they will feel belittled or left behind or left out.

There are so many situations that we have no control over in our kids lives.

But, we can control our own bodies. We can control our own words and reactions.

And think of the generation of kids we would be raising and helping to raise if we ourselves realized that our words had weight in someone else’s life

if we raised a generation of kids that had a first response of positivity and not negativity.

What if we just did our best to not be the reason our kids learned resiliency?

And what if, when we found ourselves saying things that don’t settle we choose to be people who explained ourselves instead of just letting it go.

What do you think that might do?

Well, personally?

I think it just might change the world.

Honest

Running from stillness

Other than the Y and random part time jobs that I have had here and there I have always worked at a church or for a Christian organization.

I’ve almost always been on a church property 40+ hrs a week.

From 2007-2012 I worked at a preschool and for some of the time also worked at the church.

(Basically, I lived there.)

But, in that I found myself among families and people that I could talk to and process with and be around.

Around 2010 the Wayman family came to the church.

And it was lovely.

Not only did I get to see their kiddos grow but I got to lean on and reach out and be mentored by Eric and Cathy.

They are two humans that I am so grateful for. I know that I was in the exact place I was supposed to be when they came to Lighthouse. They are two humans who walked me through some of the hardest, ugliest times of my life up to that date.

They’ve always welcomed me back with open arms, even when I wasn’t sure of up and down.

I mention them because I randomly decided to listen to one of Eric’s most recent sermons.

It was about solitude and noise in our lives and essentially how we are surrounded by it. Now, this isn’t new.

We all know this. We know that there is an immense amount of noise in our life. We are engulfed by it. (As I write this I am listening to music and texting two different people).

My mind is full of to do lists and assessments and assignments and 18 different tiny humans (probably more if I’m being honest). I’m thinking about what I can do to show my friends I care. I am trying to be present in people’s lives and present 40 hours a week in my classroom.

I’m trying to make space to be creative and to write and make good choices for my body.

So, today when I decided to sit and listen to Eric speak, I thought of sitting on the couches at Eric and Cathy’s house and I realized I would probably just sit down and burst into tears. It’s one of those few places that I would sit and stop.

Now, I have been stopping here and there. I’ve been learning more and more to saying no and staying in and eating apples.

But…sitting WITH God?

Not as much.

I’m slightly terrified of the quiet right now. Mainly, because quieting all the things would take a lot of work.

Opening my Bible stirs something in me. Praying is a little too close for comfort.

I wrote something for an online magazine a couple years ago. And I know I’ve quoted this exact section before but it resonates once again.

“Everything in me wanted to run.

I couldn’t handle Jesus any more.

He was being silent.

But it was a weird silence.

It was almost like Jesus was playing the part of the man in a horror movie, who just after the power goes out, calls your house phone, so you can hear him breathe and then when the police track the phone call you find that it is coming from inside the house.

Jesus was still in the house, I apparently just needed to go find him.”

Jesus is still in the house. He still lives here. My relationship has morphed and changed even since I wrote this piece. My life is ever evolving. My beliefs and truths are morphing and become more refined.

But, sitting in stillness still terrifies me. It isn’t something I’ve ever done super well.

So, I go back in my thoughts to sitting with Cathy on their couch or walking into Eric’s office on my lunch. My life wasn’t all roses and sunshine then. I was going through depression and sickness in my family. And whenever I stopped with them, I would almost always cry.

And that’s ok. But, I sat. And I stopped.

There are so many things I’m wanting to say right now.

I think what I want you to know that if the silence and the quiet scares you; you aren’t alone.

If sitting with whomever your deity is terrifies you because of the intimacy of it; that’s ok.

If stopping will make you burst into tears-let me pass you the Kleenex.

And if you have something in your mind that is changing, then explore.

Today, I disposed of the shame of feeling far from God. The shame of not being able to hear Him.

Today, I disposed of the shame of running. I didn’t stop running-I just stopped feeling shame.

Today, I disposed of the shame of a changed mind.

Deep breathes to the toes friends. We’ve got this.

Honest

I am not a mother

I have met a lot of moms in my life.

That’s kind of a side effect of working with tiny humans; you meet their moms.

I’ve made friends with, been mentored by, looked up to, laughed with, cried to, been cried on, by a large variety of mothers. My friends have become mothers before my own eyes. I’ve met moms in many different countries, across language and cultural barriers.

I, myself, am not a mother.

I process a lot in this blog. I process my thoughts through writing. I “think out loud” in order to lay the pieces out. I don’t say things to garner sympathy or attention. I say things to tell it like it is. I say things so, in case you feel the same way, you don’t feel so alone.

I am not a mother.
And I don’t know if I need to be one.

This isn’t saying that I don’t want to be a mother. Or that I don’t have moments of baby fever, because let me tell you my Facebook feed is blowing up with pregnancy announcements. And my most favorite place at the Y is in the baby room snuggling the babies.

But, I don’t think my world is going to crash down if I don’t get married or if my husband, whoever he may be, and I decide that we don’t want to have kids.

I also don’t think it will make me less of a woman, or that I would be selling myself short, or the world short if I didn’t “put a piece of myself into it”.

Women who become moms (through any means) are pretty freakin bad ass. From the women in a village in Africa who have a baby on their back and a basket on their head, to the single thirty something who is a foster mom, to the working moms whose tiny humans I’ve taught and taken care of during the day, to the single moms who do all the things, to the moms who stay at home and take care of their kiddos and support each other. BA every one of them.

And I know a lot of grown ass women who aren’t mothers who are also BA. Running businesses, managing companies, making a life from being immensely creative. Some of them may want kids and some don’t.

And that’s ok.

Sometimes it is hard, especially in a Christian culture, to understand a woman not wanting kids. Or being ok with not having them. Or sympathizing and not being condescending to the one who does and is unable too.

I have mom role models. I have women I want to be when I “grow up” (as always, Rachel B I’m looking at you). I take parenting nuggets here and there. If I do have kids, I won’t be scared of a singular two year old because for the past year I’ve averaged 12 on the daily. I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve.

And if I never use them on my own kids that’s ok.

I guess, what it really comes down to is this: it’s completely 100% ok not to want to have kids. It’s ok to not want to or need to be a mom. It is not ok to shame those who have those opinions or tell them “they just need to find the right guy” (and yes that has been said to me).

It comes down to being who you are.

And this is who I am.

So, to all of you mothers on Mother’s Day and let’s face it, every day.

You guys are amazing.

While, yes, I do take care of tiny humans, change diapers and put to sleep (think: MMA cage fighting a crocodile), I feed and teach and snuggle and love; I sleep in a bed that doesn’t get disturbed by the tiptoe of tiny feet. I don’t get yelled at that the toast is cut wrong WHILE also trying to get ready for work. (I still get yelled at for the toast). I don’t get awakened by screams, or have to watch shots at the doctor.

You do that.

So, if I don’t ever become a mom; if I spend the rest of my life, in some capacity, taking care of tiny humans, or caring for my friend’s tiny humans, I want you, sweet mom friend of mine, to know this simple four word sentence from me to you:

I got your back.

Honest

Why: not for now, but later.

A while back I wrote a blog “to the tiny human makers” it was a spin off of a conversation my work wife and I had about how much we really love our kiddos and how much we want the parents to know that.Lately though I’ve been thinking about why I work with kids. And I hate to say it, but it’s not because they are kids.

It’s because they are people, albeit tiny ones.

I have a desire in me to help people. To give them tools, hope, encouragement. 

I’ve always been a background person. I want to help the process along. I want to push others forward. I want to help them come into who they are.

I want to give them things right now that they will need for later.

This doesn’t always make what I do easy. 

There is limited instant gratification (except potty training-the instant that happens? Hallelujah) but I know that I’m putting something in the kids that I have interacted with that they will, somewhere along the way, just have grafted in themselves. 

I’ve been lucky to have moments where I see where a day camper grow into a beautiful adult. I’ve gotten to see one of my RFK grow into a beautiful teen staff. I have gotten to see the personality of my preschoolers evolve over their parents social media.

And that’s wonderful.

But I won’t always know what happens.

A lot of the kids I work with on a daily basis I won’t ever know. I won’t know the kind of teenagers they become, what colleges they choose to go to or what kind of adults they turn out to be.

I can only hope and pray that the bits and pieces of things we have established in them stay in them.

I work with people ,whether of the tiny human variety or not, is because I want to show them who I am so that they are able to be more fully themselves. I want to speak out and use my voice so others find theirs. 

I want to give them things I learned in my yesterday, today, for all of their tomorrows.

That’s my hope and desire not only each day with the kiddos but with any human with whom I cross paths. 

So, what’s my why after 400 words? What’s my bottom line of why I do what I do?

I do what I do, and I am who I am on a daily basis because I want you to know a little more of who you are than you did yesterday. I want you to realize how wonderful you are. How valued and needed and loved you are. 

I want you to know you have something to give from inside of you.

My why is to spur you on to find your own.

Honest, washington whimsy

To the tiny human makers

To the tiny human makers,

My work wife and I had a rough week(s) and we were talking about so many things and being frustrated and lots of other toddler teacher life issues. And at the end of the conversation it boiled down to this.

We (I) love your tiny human.

I’ve held a lot of jobs in the tiny human field over the past 10 years. I’ve been: a Sunday school teacher, day camp counselor, camp counselor, preschool teacher, preschool coordinator for a church, toddler care coordinator for a non-profit, bible story lady, babysitter, VBS coordinator, “the kid person” on mission trips. I’ve written curriculum for programs and laughed and cried with babies to high schoolers on five continents. I’ve been “miss Meghan” “miss Meg” “Maggie” “MEG” and “Sox” or  “Junapera”. And now, of course, for the last 15 months or so I’ve been “Teacher Meg” (or TEACHER MEEEEEEEGGGG) adding lead toddler teacher to my list of tiny human jobs.

I have the faces of hundreds of kids run through my mind of different nationalities, ages, fatherless, motherless, homeless, dual job families, families with stay at home moms, or Grandma’s.

I will not know where a majority end up in life, but every one of them are etched on my heart.

I currently work at a year-round full time early learning center. I have kids that I see 35-40 hrs a week. And above everything, all the things I need to do for them, my goal in each and everyday is to let them know they are loved.

I spend my day having little conversations here and there about mom and dad and grandma and grandpa and siblings.

Because I know how much you love your tiny human. I see it on your face at drop-off and pick-up, when you tell me how they slept or ask me the same. I see it when you get excited for Friday and spending time with them. Or when you tell me about their first steps or a new word they said.

So, during the day, while you are at work, I want you to know that I LOVE your tiny human. I’ll hold them when they are sad, make them laugh, I’ll help them get a nap. I’ll make sure they learn how to throw their food in the trash and not on the floor. And if they bite a friend I will give them words to say. (Same goes for tantrums, don’t worry, those don’t fly with teacher Meg).

And I don’t necessarily do all those things because it’s my job–I mean it is my job, but I do them because I love your tiny human. When they cry, real tears streaming down their cheeks, I hurt. When they finally do the thing, I get so excited for them (I’ve never been so excited about peeing in the potty in my life). When they laugh and say “I love you teacher Meg”, I melt.

I will love your tiny human, knowing that my presence in their life is a passing moment.

But they will forever be a tiny (or maybe medium-sized) human in my life.

Some of these kiddos I knew for a day, or a few weeks or maybe years. And as I said, I don’t know what happened to most of them, or where they are at now. Like the little girl in my JK class who I worked with on letters and numbers one day a week for four months at her house after school. Or the little boy at day camp that we called ninja and all fell in love with. Or Nay in Cambodia, the girls at the academy in South Africa, or any and every smiling face I met at royal family.

I’m grateful for social media and the ability to watch some of these kids grow up. Like I know that when he graduates high school I will be there to watch Nicky B walk (or probably do the robot or something amazing) across the stage and I’ll drink a glass of wine with his mom Rachel because she was and is one of my mom role models. I’ll be amazed for every year older Eric and Cathy’s boys get and be thankful for every moment on their couches. And I will treasure every smile of that tribe of kids from Rock Harbor that were in my three day class together. And of course, a certain then five year old boy who would say “hey good lookin'” to me (he’ll be president some day). Not to mention the all grown up day campers who are off to college.

I’ll support those kids from afar in their adventures like their families supported me. I’ll cheer them on every chance I get. Even when they don’t remember that I was their teacher or their counselor or that crazy lady with the Afro.

I will always love those tiny humans.

I don’t know how long I will be in the tiny human game, or if I will have tiny humans of my own, but for now, each day I will love your tiny human with my whole heart. I will impart to them words of kindness and life and thankfulness. I will encourage them to do good and make choices that honor who they are.

And a note to the families of the tiny humans that aren’t so tiny anymore: know that I still love your kids and you with so much in me. I get so excited hearing of the accomplishments and victories in their lives. I’m grateful to have been a small part of your lives and know that you were/are a big part of mine.

And know this, if your child is in daycare, or preschool know and have the knowledge that they are loved a lot.

With love always,

Meg

Honest, washington whimsy

the long game

I am 31 and have no damn clue what I want to be when I grow up.(And I’ve also discovered I’m way too much of an NF to figure out a tangible life job.)

I’ve been in the early childhood world for about ten years and I’ve acquired so many different skills like the ability to communicate with parents and educators, the ability to be have immense amounts of patience. My leadership style has grown and changed. My capability to read a room helped me as the bible teacher at RFKC. 

And obviously I now have the ability to put 14 one year olds to sleep in under thirty minutes ( RIP teacher Meg and teacher Victoria nap time show).

But, that’s not what I want to be when I grow up. I’m thankful for the jobs I have held, and currently have that have caused me to grow and change as a person, but I’m not sure where this all leads me.

Last week, while curled up on my friend Tiffany’s couch, she asked me what the dream job was. 
Ha.

Can I get paid for writing and sitting and listening to people and then telling them their potential?

Because, one of the other skills that I’ve realized I hold is seeing who someone actually is even when they don’t see it. Adults, teenagers and of course, the tiny humans.

(Though most of the time it comes out in the form of “man up or shut up” or reciting the “but was he a man?” dialogue from the mindy project )

Rewind to the past few months in the two year old room.

Two year olds mean business. And I have a few that are more than a handful. 

I was on the phone with a parent a couple weeks ago telling her about something her tiny human did that day that caused teacher Meg to have a heart attack and she began apologizing for the fact that her tiny human is a handful and is always the one to be the first to test the boundaries.

I stopped her apologizing as quickly as it began.

I could easily see her becoming defeated, so, I said that said tiny human wasn’t a handful (and I will never confirm or deny if this is true), but to think about how when the tiny human is older, they will be able to take risks, and push the boundaries. 

She responded that I was thinking positive.

But I mean, what would happen if we looked at tiny humans like that? Saw the things that may look like not great life choices and find ways to turn them positive and frame them in that way. What would happened even if we looked at teenagers, adults like that? What would that change?

I’ve been watching a lot of Girl Meets World lately. (Sidenote if you are caught up PLEASE CALL ME BECAUSE I HAVE FEELINGS).

On GMW they have a lot of lessons and life wisdom and warm fuzzies and a handful of mentions of the “long game”. The long game is just how it sounds. Being in it not for the immediate results but for what will happen at the end. 
I have kids that I had in day camp that are out of college. I have preschoolers that are in junior high and high school. You don’t work in early education for the short game. Sometimes you get those immediate gratifying moments. But for the most part, you have to just know that at the foundation you are and were apart of that tiny humans life. I may never know what happened with them, but I will know that I will live in a little piece of their present in the future.

I want to live whatever I am doing in the long game. Be it working with tiny humans, or writing or sitting across from people or being in leadership or maybe one day being a wife and a mom. 

Living in the long game is being present with who you are today knowing that it will be apart of who you are tomorrow.  Living in the long game is taking care of yourself and your heart and soul and being so that ten years from now when something comes into your being you are prepared for it. 

I’m 31 and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

But I’m choosing (attempting) to be present and honest and living with my whole heart. Because it’s for today, tomorrow, next week and next year. It’s for Bellingham now. It’s for Bellingham later and wherever else I find myself.  I’m choosing to live my life using the pieces of life I’m given and wrapping them into gifts I can give.

I’m living in the long game.