Thursday, March 28, 2013

Silver Lining

I came home today and cried.

I caught 5 students plagiarizing. Deliberately. When I asked them why, only one student responded, and he blamed it on laziness.

My disappointment and anger over the incident left a bitterness in my mouth. It was quite tangible. And it made me realize something - 

I love my job.

Not the standardized tests and hoops we have to jump through. Not the constant meetings and incessant data entry and compilation. The every day interaction with youth and promise for our future. And there is promise for our future.

With the exception of one, I've never had these students before their junior year with me. And our school is large enough that I don't recall having seen three of them until they walked into my classroom in August. But in the 6 1/2 months I've had these classes, I've gotten to know my students. These 'kids' all have their own personality, their own hopes and dreams, their own fears and weaknesses.

It is frightening to think of the broad future and where we're headed as a society. It is easy to say our youth are typical teens who are lazy, disrespectful, and take the easy way out. But it is angering to blindly apply these labels to all teenagers.

We were young once. We all got tired. We all made mistakes. We all took shortcuts. But it is through these experiences that we learned more about ourselves, that we grew from our mistakes. And it usually stemmed from having disappointed someone.

I am still very angry at these students. I am even more disappointed in their choice of actions. All five have so much potential for their future. All five are smart, funny, interesting kids with eclectic tastes and  talents. All five made a mistake.

I just hope getting caught in flagrante delecto and seeing the sadness on my face was the point of recognition needed to help them move in the right direction. I hope this is a lesson that will stay with them even until they are the ones disappointed in their children, or students, etc.

And for myself, the sheer ability of this incident to illicit the reaction I had demonstrated to me why I will continue in this profession. I see so much hope and potential in tomorrow's leaders. And I appreciate knowing that I am instrumental in helping them all know someone expects more.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Eureka Moment

One night this past week I was lying in bed, my night owl brain trying desperately to, again, conform to the morning person patterns on which our house runs. (I am the sole night owl. It has been a continuous struggle.)

Random thoughts sometimes fly on nights like that. I have no recollection as to what stirred these memories, but I was suddenly taken back to my junior year of college. Allow me to expound...

Early spring. I remember because I had been tricked by Mother Nature into wearing a light sweatshirt that was quickly revealed as being too light in the mountain-top gusts of wind that whistled past my frame. I was on my way to some obligatory meeting. I don't recall what; it obviously didn't make an impression on me. All I know is that I was feeling dread and wishing the time would go by so I could go back to "our" dorm room and cuddle w/ Steve and warm up.

As I walked across campus to the meeting, I saw, not even a foot away from the heavy traffic in the fading light, a minute creature huddled on the ground. I was astonished this was lying here and went to look closer. It looked like a baby mouse, but its tail was much too long for a mouse. I looked up and saw a knot of branches and leaves and figured it was a baby squirrel that fell out of its nest.
Photo Courtesy of:

So, I picked up the newborn and cradled it in my hands for the next two hours, trying desperately to transfer some of my waning body heat to it.

Steve was a trooper. His hands are always so warm, and he gladly took over the maternal cuddling of the baby. The two of us made up a bed in a shoebox, but the baby woke every hour during the night and squealed for his(?) mommy. He was cold and hungry. Every time he woke, Steve or I cuddled it again to warm it up. The next day, we got medicine droppers and fed it milk mixed with corn syrup until we could find someone to adopt him. Thankfully, we only had to wait until the end of the day, as it turns out a woman in housekeeping had raised squirrels before.

Why is this important? It's not. But it's curious. I realized I've always had an affinity for the name 'Sydney.' Steve and I named the baby squirrel Sydney the Squirrel. We would check in with the woman in housekeeping regularly until she informed us he'd been released to the wild. Our first 'child' together was named Sydney, and our first CHILD together is named Sydney. There must be a connection, somewhere.

Granted, Steve's great-grandfather was named Sidney. And my favorite character from A Tale of Two Cities is Sydney Carton. We didn't find out gender when we were pregnant, and the neutral name seemed to fit quite well. But I was so excited to realize I had used the name in the past that I woke Steve just to make sure I was remembering the name correctly. I had not thought of our squirrel in years. 

The human psyche is fascinating. Other than a desire to see Sydney, Australia, I have no idea why the name strikes such a chord with me. Regardless, my son has a name that suits him wonderfully, and has history in it - not only within his father's ancestry and literature, but within our Nichols Family history, as well. Fascinating, and beautiful.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Quick Update

We had yet another snow day today. The snow started late last night, as Steve and I were headed to bed, so we missed out on all the "soft, fluffiness" and only got to play in the cold, hard, icy snow that broke off the car in sheets and crumbled to dust when you tried to make a snowball this morning. 

But isn't he daggone cute? A former student knitted this hat for Syd this past summer.  We had a lot of fun making footprints and trying to make snowballs, but the wind eventually blew us back indoors.

The household is finally getting healthy again and today was relaxing. All in all, it was a wonderful day.