“GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL.”
I saw this on myspace today. I like it. I like it a lot. I am definitely growing older, but I refuse to grow up. Ok, I do have to grow up somewhat. The responsibilities at this stage in my life are pretty endless, but I refuse to give into them. Being goofy and silly is so much more fun. I teach 5th graders. At that age, they are beginning to think that they are too good for being silly. Let me tell you, when they see their teacher acting silly, singing songs, making up rhymes, doing crazy dances to help them remember things, etc., it doesn’t take much for them to let their shields down and have some fun. One student in particular gives me the craziest of looks. It’s simply become a game between us. The more that she looks at me like I have lost it, the odder I get. We laugh, we joke. I tell her to stop giving her parents a hard time. She confides in me that she is being a “brat” at home. It’s all good. During that terrible fifth grade year when hormones are going crazy, boyfriend and girlfriend relationships are being explored, the body is changing, kids don’t know who they are (child, teen or adult), don’t know what they want from life, during all of the demands and stresses and frustrations, they can look back at their teacher and say, “She was nuts!”
Ok, that’s not the impression that I hope to leave on my students, but oh well. So far this year I have taught my students a few songs and dances. During our bookstudy when the book started talking about a fawn, I sang to them the song from Sound of Music – you know, “Doe, a deer, a female deer…” The reaction that I received? Most of them started to sing with me. I taught them a random dance that I made up to help them learn some math terms. Months later, it’s stuck. I look like a complete idiot/dork, but they know what those words mean.
The older I get, the crazier I get. You might find this hard to believe, but I am not really getting crazy, I have just let go of the image that I felt that I had to uphold. I don’t care if my kids think I’m nuts. I don’t care if someone walks in and sees me being a dork. I care that my students are learning and that we all enjoy being there. At the end of the day, I want my students to know that I care about them and I enjoy being with them.
Grow up? Nah. I want to enjoy my life as an off the wall kind of person, not as a prim and proper, predictable person. Someone’s gotta be me, and I think I’m doing a pretty fine job of it.