Making it Count

Can you believe that when I was a teenager in High School I wanted to be a family lawyer? I never wanted kids and if you asked me to describe my perfect life it would have absolutely nothing to do with what I’m doing now. If you asked me to describe my life at 22 I would say I would be living in a dorm room, finishing my Psychology degree, eating Mr. Noodles, and beginning the process of being the most feared family lawyer of all time. That was my “dream”. I wanted to be a family lawyer because I wanted to shut bad families down. I wanted to remove kids from homes and I wanted to punish people for having too many of them they couldn’t take care of. I wanted to be brutal, but smart. I was working on a Psychology degree and found it thoroughly boring. Now I am sitting here in Starbucks putting the final touches on a final paper that will finish off my History degree. The Arts degree, that when I was 11, was told would be useless and get me nowhere. Being a teacher would mean I would hit a “ceiling” and that I should shoot as high as possible. The voice that spoke that to me would be my inner voice for years. Being a teacher would be the lowest downgrade of my life. I failed things. When I failed at those things it hit me so hard. When I was a kid it was a dream to be veterinarian, then a Sport Physiotherapist because those things made money. Then it was a lawyer. Yet, it was still so unfulfilling. Now I’m sitting here finishing off a useless Arts degree.

In the past year a lot of things have changed. I no longer coach. That passion was whisked from under my feet and I haven’t been able to recover yet. I used to run girls leadership groups, coach competitive groups, attend sport conferences and every single day of my life was dedicated to coaching. Now it’s not. I was a writer for the Female Coaching Network and haven’t written a single thing in a whole year. Coaching was my identity and now it’s weird to say that I work in a school. Sometimes I don’t even say I’m an EPA because some days I still wish I was a coach. The allure of that doesn’t seem as strong. Except it is. I realized that I spent so much time working on people at the height of their life that I forgot there was a whole other world out there of people who haven’t even found it yet. My sole intention of being a family lawyer was to redeem my childhood but then I realized that by the time a kid reached me in the court system they’ve already lost so much. I wanted to focus on building strong kids instead and that starts in the classroom. Except it wouldn’t be that easy because I couldn’t just go to school to be a teacher. I needed a degree first. I think I was swayed away from a Psychology degree mainly because I didn’t ever want to look at a kid and diagnose their brain. I didn’t want to know which part made this part do this etc. I have a learning disability and hated being told I was “special”.  It was a hard fight, fighting against being “special” and not letting it be an obstacle. I just wanted someone to teach me something meaningful in a meaningful way. I remember when I had knee surgery, in the early stages my doctor was mentoring a student and he said, “look at the x-ray but never base everything from it. Diagnose the patient first and what you see first.” I’ve never had a stronger knee. History has always been important to me mainly because I know very little about mine. As you get older you realize how important it is to know about it. So, from there I worked on understanding history with the hope that one day I could share that with others. I’ll be a teacher, one day.

In the last few months I have spent my evenings studying and then frantically planning. Don’t tell me not to do it because I’ve been planning since the day I was born. Everyday I am greeted at the Learning Centre door by a girl who has stolen my heart (but I will be completely honest, most kids steal my heart). I walk into the staffroom to get my coffee and load up one of my many mugs from my mug collection, while listening to the banter of teachers about to start their day. I walk out to the portable classroom where again, I am greeted by some Brownie girls and somehow manage to survive some small-talk (if you know me, you’ll know I am very socially awkward). In the classroom I get to see two other students who I work with, one of them is always smiley, the other smiles with his eyes. We do the daily dish: “What did you do last night? What did you eat? Who were you with?” What’s important here is that we all do it. The four of us. Not just them talking to me but I like it when they know that life sucks as a young adult sometimes too. It’s been equated to a family dinner where everyone is supposed to talk about their day only this way we’re talking about our evenings. We discuss things that are important and social problems. We read. Then we work. We work hard and I usually lose my shit once during that time. “Why is this place a mess? I just cleaned this table up yesterday? Why didn’t you put this away where it belongs, now we have to search every folder to find it!!!!” There’s laughing because Miss Ornmadee losing her shit is like watching a chihuahua bark because they need to go out to pee. There’s recess, then it’s my favourite time of all time. I get all 8 of my kids with me. We do something artsy or scientific or random that usually pisses someone off. Then we just enjoy each other’s company. Or somedays we’re bothered by each other’s company. However I would never remove a single day. The other day we made unicorn frappucinos. Sometimes we do guided painting (Ornmadee loses her shit twice during this time). We dance and we take pictures. I post pictures up because as one of my kids said, “This place is our home” Home has pictures. Home is messy. Home laughs real loudly and there’s crying too. Lunch rolls around and I get to observe a human zoo during feeding time. I question many parenting styles as the results are sitting in front of me snorting yogurt tubes. I get my lunch, usually studying while eating. The afternoon I get to work with my ninth kid who I think enjoys my company but I’m not really sure. Sometimes I can make her laugh, sometimes I really piss her off. She says goodbye before getting on the bus to go home though so it must be ok. Then I make my way back to the Learning Centre for my final 15 minutes of the day. These are the most important minutes of my day. I get to see my fellow EPAs who love each of those kids so dearly, too. We get to try and make their day one last time. I go outside with my older kids to get fresh air. We talk about what we’re doing in the evening and how the rest of the school day went. I get to breathe and not plan anything or run after someone. This day wasn’t a fairytale, it never is. It’s hard and long. We say goodbye. We hug like we’re never seeing each other again. We say goodnight. 8 kids=8 times. Somedays some people need longer hugs than others. During those moments I forget that I was never really a huggy person because then it’s not about me. I go home to study some more or to my second job (where I am basically doing a condensed version of this day in 3 hours). Every once in a while I get to sit here and type stuff like this. I laugh because in the moments of those days I think, “Can this day get any worse” but then I go home and think “I would like to try and do it again”. On the weekends I get to go out, horseback ride, shop, hang out with friends, go to breakfasts…and every weekend I wish how much my nine kids could be part of those days.

10 years ago I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me this is what a typical day would look like for me. Instead, I’m sitting here, honest to Buddha, wondering how I got so lucky. I think about it every single day when I get hugged or smiled at, without fail. How does it just keep getting better and better right when I think it’s already the best day I’ve ever had?

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The writing prompt was, “What is the most important thing (insert anybody’s name here) has taught you?” I think back to wee Ornmadee who hid under the preschool and kindergarten tables because she hated kids.

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