it takes a village, preschool, tiny human teacher

Don’t call it daycare

I’ve had a lot of rants in my head the last couple weeks. Numerous really. They range from personal, to things I shouldn’t have opinions about but do, to the thing I spend most of thought life on: work.

In the last few weeks I’ve been told that I’m not a real teacher and “oh, so a glorified nanny”.

So, I thought for anyone out there who’s ever wondered what the day of an early learning lead teacher looks like I thought I’d give you a (basic) day in the life of. My days look routinely different but all still the same, basic form.

And I wanted to write this out to the best of my ability for a lot of reasons, but one main one being this: I am a teacher. My teaching looks different then an elementary or high school teacher. At the Y I’m not only helping kids learn their numbers and color and letters but I am help them learn to listen to their bodies, to calm them down, to understand what they need. I’m helping them interact with their friends and be in community.

Just because the kiddos we teach are birth to five does not mean we are not teachers.

What I do, what we do, is so important.

So, without further ado:

A day in the life of Teacher Meg:

And while reading the following schedule remembering I am also doing the following during this entire day: constantly counting children, constantly talking to children, about every 5-10 minutes going up to a pair of kiddos and helping them talk out a conversation or a squabble, snuggling a sad friend, talking to at least two kids about listening to their bodies or helping wipe a nose, seeing something every five minutes that I need to document for assessment, note for a parent, add or change for early achievers or write on my “I need” list in the office. (All while hearing teacher meeeeegggggggg from across the room every two mi

6:30-7:15: clock in, turn on lights, alternate between filling spray bottles, setting up classroom with activities, writing about our day, filling out daily paperwork probably with kids in the room.

7:15-8:15: greet kiddos, talk to parents, help kiddos say bye, write notes on clipboard for my other staff in the room, maybe change a potty training accident or two, read at least three books, change the activities from an art to math activity, document said math activity for assessment, field at least four phone calls, talk two tiny humans through an argument over who was wearing the necklace first, three step the tables, monitor the tiny human sweeping up the sand and the one counting spoons for breakfast, snap a couple pictures to enter documentation for later.

8:10: give a clean up warning.

8:15: Michelle comes in, I ring the clean up bell.

8:16: ring the bell again and help the now 10 kids put baskets away.

8:20: Excuse kids to gathering time loft so breakfast can get set out.

8:22: Sing for the first of many times

“How many friends are here today, here to learn, here to play?

How many friends are here today, put up your hand I can count you”

8:25: greet our 11th friend and give them a job so they feel less sad.

8:30 send quiet friends down for breakfast to wash their hands

8:30-9:00: breakfast. Help clean up spilled milk, get more breakfast, run in and out of the storage closet to continue to get activities ready for the day. Give snuggles to our 12th and 13th kiddo, help friends clean up breakfast, make a note about so and so pouring milk, take the break schedule and make additions to it, write out a nap chart and reports for the day all while continuing to explain to tiny human why putting our spoon in our milk makes it tip.

9:00 Mercedes comes in, give her the fastest run down of the day while helping Michelle clean the kitchen so we can put out table activities. Legos, scissor cutting and sorting are where it’s at.

9:05 attempt to leave the room on my break, stop to give a hug and help someone put on their shoes. (All while Michelle is doing dishes with a half turn to the classroom and Mercedes is sending kiddos to the bathroom)

9:07: get out the back door, mobile order, go to Starbucks and then speed walk up to the annex to grab a book and some vanilla for a baking project.

9:20: go back in the classroom, stick my coffee in the fridge and remember I forgot to go to the bathroom, it’s fine I’ll do it later. Give a clean up warning. Say hi to our 14th and 15th kiddos.

9:20-9:30: get out all of the ingredients and automatically have 8 tiny humans pulling up chairs to watch me measure out ingredients. Remind them have to clean up their areas. They go back reluctantly after I tell them I will wait.

9:30: measure out ingredients showing the different tools we use and set them on the counter.

9:35 ring the clean up bell.

9:37 ring it again.

9:38-9:45: alternate between helping clean up and sending kiddos who have cleaned up to wait on the rug.

9:45-10:05: gathering time upstairs. Count our friends, get out wiggles, move back to the rug, stand up and help a friend go back to the rug all while downstairs is getting set up for our cooking activity. Build our recipe on a white board. Talk about our families. Take deep breathes to calm our body.

10:05-10:10: send kiddos back downstairs to wash hands and find their name at the tables.

10:10-10:25: make cookies. This process involves talking about numbers as ingredients and what makes reactions, and yes you will get a turn and and I need you to wash your hands again and no you can only have three chocolate chips right now. All of this gets documented and pictures are taken for our parent Facebook and for my notes.

10:25-10:30: send kiddos to wash hands again and pick an area to play in.

10:30-11:15: while I roll cookies: three kids sit with me and we talk about what we out in the cookies and how long they will take to bake. Some more kiddos help unload the dishwasher and count forks. From across the room I see two tiny humans organize food in a tray to serve in their restaurant and three who are parking in their parking lot according to where they live. I snap some pictures and make a note in my brain. I maybe answer a couple phone calls, one from a parent who is picking up early, so I make a note to write their daily report out. Also during this time sending kids to put shoes and socks on.

(11:05: put cookies in the oven so they can eat them outside)

11:10 give a clean up warning.

11:15-11:25 clean up, get jackets on, line up, grab cookies and head outside.

11:30-12:00 while the kids are running and playing outside I set up beds, lunch and if I have a few spare moments work on uploading assessments, working on the classroom or writing reports. And also run to the bathroom.

12:00-12:15 transition kids back, read a story while lunch gets put out, send the friends who have wiggles down to help. Inside serve lunch, try to sit for a minute or two to talk to kiddos about their favorite parts of the day.

12:15-12:45 my lunch (I’m getting better at not doing anything during this time, but sometimes I upload photos, go get ideas about kiddos and behavior, write reports, scroll Pinterest and preschool Facebook groups for ideas and also finish the coffee I haven’t drank since 9:30)

12:45-1:45: during this time it’s simultaneously putting kids to sleep, talking about why we need sleep, giving quiet activities to awake kids, cleaning the kitchen, doing the lunch dishes, writing reports, making notes for my closer, for myself and trying to time things so that when I take my ten I can leave the room quickly.

1:45-1:55 ten minute break: finish reports, sort photos for the day, laugh with Michelle about something that was absurd and take a deep breath.

1:55-2:45: set out quiet activities on the tables, unload dishwasher, finish paperwork, invite kiddos to do quiet activities, change white board message, set out bin on beds for clean-up, sit with the kiddos for a few moments make some notes about counting and letter recognition.

2:45 turn lights on, wash tables as all the kids wake up and take off sheets, send them to put on shoes and take off pull-ups. Write down all wake up times and special notes to parents on daily reports.

2:55-3:10 set out snack, touch base with my closer, say bye three times, grab ipad and reports to take to the office.

3:11: inevitably forget something in my classroom, go back and get it, say bye again.

3:12-3:30: sit in the office and finish uploading photos on Facebook and putting pictures in folders. Make copies of a note I wrote to a parent, tell a funny story about my day.

3:40 go home.

That’s it.

For over ten years give or take I’ve been teaching tiny humans. No, I don’t have a degree in it but I have loads training and tons of experience.

I can mostly say I’m really good at my job, but almost every day I leave with the ability that I could have done more, sat more, taught more. My day looks like a lot of transitions and daily activities but so much learning is happening. Language and math and science and social emotional development. Friendships and community dynamics. I’ve watched kids go from tiny 1 years olds to kids getting easy for kindergarten and my preschooler were ones I snuggled in the baby room.

I’ve spent a better part of my life helping tiny humans learn to be good humans.

So for all those reasons (and so many more):

I beg, implore, ask: please remember that early learning all the way from infants to kids going to kindergarten is so important. The teachers care more than you know and do more than you would ever see.

So please, please;

Don’t call it daycare.

Honest, hope is a verb

Five years of wind and writing on Sundays

I just reread the first piece I posted on this website five years ago.

I can’t help but chuckle at the person who wrote those words. Now not in a bad way, because everything leads us to where we are.

But, even though that girl had more hope, that girl had dreams that hadn’t been left on mountains to be forgotten about, that girl still felt like she had so much more to give, I chuckle because I am so far from her.

And that’s not a bad thing.

And I want to tell you where I am right now to remind you of something very important: it’s ok.

Because the truth is, I feel a little dead inside right now. It’s almost as if I needed New Year’s Eve to actually be two weeks of me being able to take deep cleansing breaths and wash away all the things that piled on from the last few years.

That isn’t life though. That’s not how the world works. So the year went from 18 to 19 and I was just there with a champagne glass and wondering how I was going to brush myself off and keep going.

I got a picture today while I was walking. It was of a parched desert with hard packed dirt. Then the rains came. They came and they came and the water sat on top of the dirt and couldn’t sink in. It found nooks and crannies and valleys but the water had no way of infiltrating the surface. It had no where to go but to flood the life that was already growing.

Hard packed dirt that gets flooded quickly can handle the amount of water that comes. It doesn’t have enough time to saturate or sink in or make mud.

Now, I have some of the most amazing friends who give me love and support and joy and encouragement. I have parents who support me even from two states away.

But, I realized today I’ve been a hard packed desert for awhile.

So all the people in my life who have yet to give up on me I want to say for that I am sorry. I am sorry for an inability to receive goodness and joy and hope. I am sorry to you my friends and to myself.

But the dirt and the soil is hard packed and susceptible to flooding and to killing what is good.

And that’s a little bit how I feel these days.

It’s funny because I think of that girl from 5 years ago and the joy and hope that were running off of her.

And she had seen things and had heartache and hurt. She had felt lost and lost who God was, she had been there and back again.

But then, she got older.

And she questioned more and found new words and lost hope and refound it.

And now, she’s here. She’s me.

She’s a little dead inside, she’s forgotten how to laugh a little, how to smile.

And that’s ok.

It’s ok because it’s a part of moving and growing and living.

It’s not shameful or wrong.

It doesn’t mean I can’t love or give out life or hold space for someone or laugh or smile.

It doesn’t mean I’m not me.

And it doesn’t mean I need rescuing or that I am sending up signal flares.

My word for this year is release.

And among some other things I am choosing to release out of myself words so that you know you aren’t alone.

I am choosing to release words out of who I am in hopes that you will release that it’s ok to not be ok.

I am choosing to release words out of who I am so that you know that you can be not ok and still keep living and showing up in spite of it.

You can still be you.

I am that girl from 5 years ago. Parts of her built who I am today.

I haven’t failed her, I haven’t let go of her.

I’ve just learned a little more. I’ve gotten some rough edges.

I’m a little dead inside.

And that’s ok.

Honest

2018 was not silent.

To my friends,

We fucking did it.

I wanted to put that more eloquently. I wanted to have a better starter sentence but that’s all that really fits.

And really, truly we did do it.

I wish I could explain to all of you how intensely proud I am of all of us for continually facing what 2k18 brought to our table. Because it seemed every time we got to the place where we thought we’d gotten over that last thing, that last mountain, another one rose up in its place.

2k18 was drenched in our tears and our exhaustion. It was drenched in coffee and tequila and vodka and wine. 2k18 crushed dreams and held devastation and swung wrecking balls of hopelessness.

There was burnout and the feeling of being unable to catch up to life.

The absolute belief that the other shoe was going to drop followed every single moment of joy.

This year has been so packed full of disappointment for some of the humans in my life that the joy hasn’t been loud enough to break through.

And in some cases the lack of anything, joy, goodness caused us the inability to see those things even when they were right in front of our faces.

This year held good things, it really did.

(Like three words: 90’s themed birthday)

But honestly, at the end of the year I can look back and say that we fought. Maybe not all the time, maybe not loudly, maybe we laid our heads down at one point but we are still here.

Every single one of us.

I don’t what 2018 did to you.

I don’t know if you cried more or laughed more. I don’t know if this was the best year of your life or the worst or even in that dead middle where you don’t know tears from smiles. I don’t know if you wanted to give up.

I don’t know if you had sufficient amounts of rage (🙋🏼🙋🏼🙋🏼) or joy (YASSSS QUEEN- never forget that 2k18 we met the FabFive and with them all things just keep getting better). I don’t know if you had love or loss or both.

I just don’t know.

But, my friend…

YOU ARE STILL HERE.

You are still moving and taking deep breathes and showing up for your life (even if you missed a few days here and there).

You may have a few more wrinkles or grey hairs or pounds. You may have given your body a beating this year; but you still did it.

2018 took a lot of my tears. A lot of my friends tears. 2018 tried to rob me of a hell of a lot of my joy. 2018 took some of my faith and replaced it with something different (and that I’m still figuring out).

2018 brought engagements and babies and weddings and friends moving here and there and everywhere in between. 2018 did bring a little bit of hope-but just not how we thought.

2018 was not silent.

But, honestly I don’t think we were either.

I don’t know what 2019 will bring. I can’t promise joy. I can’t promise everything will be fine. I can’t promise people won’t be haters.

But we can do the damn thing.

That I can promise.

I can promise that showing up isn’t always easy, but we can.

Because we have.

My planner is already getting full for 2019. I already have three weddings to go too, one that I am the officiant of honor in. My work life the next two months is going to be insane.

And in the midst of all the the things, that parts that aren’t the best in my life and in the lives of my friends don’t go away with midnight.

The struggles and things that aren’t great in your life won’t go away with midnight.

The battles and all those things don’t disappear from 11:59-12:00.

BUT there is something to it.

Something new, something more. Time to dust off the dirt of it all and step into the new year a little stronger than last. (Or in new Calvin Klein heels).

You can.

You will.

You have.

Let’s do that damn thing.

With love,

Meg

Honest, tiny human teacher

Why peace is like potty training

I was having a text conversation with one my favorite people to converse with via text, my boss/friend Jamie. She, on a daily basis, reminds me that it’s ok not to be ok, it’s ok to ask for help and that I do in fact know what I am doing.

Tonight we were talking about peace.

One of the best pieces of wisdom I’ve received was either from Betsy or Tiffany (why not both) and it was this “follow your peace”. It’s something that gets referenced frequently in my house between Patty and I.

I know what my “peace” feels like. It’s not clean or neat, it doesn’t always evoke peace honestly, but it’s like a compass. My peace points me north. It’s not necessarily based in my faith, some days it is, lately I don’t know if it is.

In this conversation today, I said that finding and following your peace was kind of like potty training.

Explaining to a tiny human what it feels like to need to go to the bathroom is practically impossible. I am of the philosophy that enough accidents and they will figure it out. And once they do, it’s mostly their choice whether or not they listen to their body or just keep playing with the magnet tiles.

But, in that illustration, I realized something: growing up, my body didn’t give me enough warnings that I needed to go to the bathroom. I was on different bladder control medications and wet the bed well into my teens and took said medication for it until my senior year in college. I saw three different urologists as a very young child and had to have procedures and tests done that were not fun in any way, shape or form as a little girl.

I never wanted to sleep over at friend’s houses, not because I was scared of being away from home, but because I was terrified of wetting the bed. I felt shamed multiple times in elementary school when I asked for the bathroom pass and my favorite teachers in junior high and high school were the ones who didn’t make you ask to go to the bathroom.

I felt so incredibly far from normal.

My body never gave me clues. I had to really, really listening to my body as a child before I even knew what that meant. I had to make up my own clues.

And I sit here, shuttering a little from reliving some of those memories, I wonder if right now I am in a season where peace and the ability to follow my peace is a little hazy.

Maybe there isn’t supposed to be peace to follow because we need to fight for it a little bit more.

But, what I do know, is that just like I had to make up my cues for something that was already inside me, I know that the peace is already inside me. That I have a compass, that I’m doing something right, that peace isn’t easy, but it’s probably already there. My peace reminds me to stay, to dig in, to believe, to walk into the mess.

Dear human reading this,

The world outside kind of sucks right now, peace feels fleeting on many different levels. But I want you to know, as cliche as it sounds, you have peace inside of you. It might be old peace, peace you fought for in a story that feels lifetimes ago. It might be borrowed peace, because things don’t make sense, but you need something to grab onto.

You have peace inside of you, I promise. You might call it by a different name, but it’s there.

And it’s needed.

This week, I am going to do my best to remember I have peace inside of me. And if you need the reminder yourself, shoot me a message because I got your back.

Meg

PS. With all that’s going on around us, with the hate, and what seems like the inability to be kind, I also want you to remember this that just like potty training:

Peace is not still.

Peace is not passive.

Peace demands movement.

(And hopefully not like potty training)

Peace can very much be loud.

So, let us be loud as we pass our peace to those who need it.

Honest

The chair between us

I wasn’t sure what to write today.

Mother’s Day is weird for me.

Because technically, I am not a mother, but I’ve spent a better part of my life with tiny humans.

And I woke up weird, out of a dream where a spiritual mentor was about to give me a talking to and woke up into a day where I wasn’t sure if I should go to church or not.

I sent texts to some fierce mama friends in my life who I’ve learned from and gleaned from, I went to church where I sat unsure what to do with my hands and then I sat in the sunshine with no words hitting my brain.

When I go to church 99% of the time I sit by my roommate Patty on one side of me. It’s comforting, it’s home, it feels weird when I don’t.

And then on the other side there is usually a chair between me and the person next to me.

I’ve realized that this is how I live my life. I have a chair between myself and the next human. Maybe it’s because I mostly have no personal space 40+ hours of the week, maybe it’s because I have walls around me.

Who knows.

But, I’ve been very aware lately of that chair and moreso aware when it gets taken away.

Through this season of life I’ve been walking in and the incredible unknown of what the hell is behind door #2 I’ve really counted on my space. I feel when I don’t get it, I feel when I get too much of it.

I’m not sure where the balance is.

I am figuring it out though.

I am learning what it looks like to give myself space to form thoughts and emotions and to find holes in my own thoughts.

And there, right there is how this becomes a blog about mom’s.

To the mom’s in my life, to the fierce, beautiful, lovely, warriors of mothers that I know:

When you are able, when you are capable of this-give yourself a chair. When the kids are at school or asleep or playing outside, give yourself space.

You need it, you deserve it and it’s there.

Taking space doesn’t make you less than or not enough. It gives you the ability to have more and be more.

To the mom’s in my life. To the fierce, beautiful, lovely, warriors of mothers that I know.

You got this.

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, ramblings

Practicing my practice

It’s an interesting place to be in when you sit still for the first time in awhile.

Not on my bed, or in front of Netflix or paperwork or a project. But just sitting, still, with nothing in front of you but space.

I have a new tradition in my life that may sound sad, but really, it’s not.

The new tradition is this: every Friday I have to change into my bathing suit to go swimming with my tiny humans. It’s normal at about 9:30 and I take my coffee into my storage closet and close the door.

But, I don’t turn on the light. I stand, in pitch blackness for at least two minutes. Breathing in and out and drinking my coffee. I did this for the first time on accident. I shut the door without turning the light on and was quickly enveloped in darkness and an intense sigh escaped my body.

The absence of light brought me completely relief.

That sentence sounds like a conundrum really. But in my overly sensory laden environment I’m in every day, being in a pitch black room is heaven.

I’ve been sitting here, at redlight, for over an hour. I’ve started numerous different blogs, I’ve started text conversations, I’ve only had one mimosas and I’ve stared a blank screen.

But now, I came back to this one, these first words I wrote.

Here’s what it is: I’m struggling with depression right now. Depression, coupled with anxiety, with some winter blues to mix it all up.

I don’t like to talk about depression and anxiety because people have opinions.

(Including myself)

There are so many schools of thought on depression and anxiety. So many books and methodologies and experts.

Now, as a human who lived with two people who were in grad programs for clinical psychology (shoutout to A3), I know that there is hope and help and all the things dealing with depression.

But, that doesn’t make me any less prone to talk about it.

There a few types of seasons that come up in my life that cause me to want to shut my mouth.

Because I’ve been through it before, because people have helped me before, because shouldn’t I be able to solve my own problems.

We live in a society that tells us to figure out our own issues.

Fake it til you make it.

There is a time and a place for faking it til you make it.

Because, yes, we just have to get through the day. I have tiny humans who need me to show up for them each day. Routines and a schedule and transitions that have to happen every day.

But, what are you going to do when you stop?

I binged watched a show on Friday. I haven’t done that for awhile. I watched the entirety of the first season of the reboot of Queer Eye. (No but really watch it)

And I cried.

It was the loveliest reminder of what it looks like to care for ourselves. To do things that bring us life. To take time to fill ourselves up. To take time to live.

I am a human, who has for the past 10-12 years, struggled with depression and anxiety.

I’m not defined by it.

It’s not who I am.

It’s just something that rears it’s head in some seasons more than others.

The things that pop up here and there don’t define us. They don’t hold us.

We are still us.