I’m not going to lie, sometimes my job is so stressful I count down the hours until I can go home and sleep.
And then, there are the moments that make everything worth it. There are moments like with M and J, where you see a small shift in a child and hope it will seed in their brain and bloom later. These are the moments that make every moment of stress, every moment where I feel like I can’t do anything right (which is pretty much all the moments), every moment of planning-anxiety, every moment of let-down or heart-break, just worth it.
These moments happen every day, and they happen often on field trips. Often these are events I’ve always taken for granted–like going to see a ballet. I had several friends in the ballet growing up, and the Nutcracker was a holiday tradition. But when were able to procure tickets to see the Colorado Ballet’s performance of the Nutcracker, I realized what a treat it was for the girls we took to see it. One girl was so enthralled she told me she was “afraid to blink because she didn’t want to miss one thing.”
Today, we took 16 of our kids skiing/snowboarding at Keystone Resort. Skiing, as you know, is very much a hobby of the rich, and most of these kids have only been once or twice, through non-profits like ours. However, growing up in the fairly affluent town of Bozeman, I was lucky enough to both ski and snowboard regularly.
Dragging SIXTEEN middle-schoolers out of bed at 5 a.m. in the morning was not something I was looking forward too–and neither was dragging myself out of bed at 4 a.m.
I admit, I was grumpy on the ride up, sucking down my double-coffees and answering what seemed like inane questions from one particular boy, who also happens to be one of my unofficial favorites.
“Miss Amy, why is the rock that color?” (I don’t know anything about rocks. The best I could come up with was that the “lion-mane-colored rocks” were some sort of sandstone.)
“Miss Amy, are these the Rocky Mountains?”
“Miss Amy, is that mountain as tall as Mount Everest?”
“Why is it called Mount Everest instead of Mountain Everest?” (that was a fun one to explain.)
And so on down the line. When he finally asked me one question, I realized he was asking the endless questions because this was such a new and exciting experience for him: “Will we need oxygen tanks when we ski because it’s so high up?” (we had just finished discussing Everest and why his ears were popping in the altitude).
That’s when it hit me–not only has this kid had so little experience in the mountains, but that this upcoming ski experience was such an event for him that he wanted to soak up everything about it he could.
It helped suck the mundane out of my day, for sure.
And it was made all the better when this kid took up skiing like he was born to and talked about how it was his new favorite sport all the way home.
Sure, there were plenty of kids who whined, who fell, got yelled at for not listening to instructions, and one who even hit me so hard in the back rocketing down the hill that I couldn’t breathe for about ten minutes.
But that’s something else I need to remember–experiences that can seem dull and repetitive or not-special to me are a whole different ball game for these kids. It pays to remember that when I’m annoyed because a certain kid won’t go home when program is over or after a field trip, it’s because home is miserable and this place is their sanctuary.
And even though I’m leaving at the end of this year and many of these kids may forget my name or even forget me and my co-workers may breathe a sigh of relief at my going, I will be forever grateful that I was part of creating a sanctuary for these kids.
Forever grateful that I simply had a place in creating a whole new world for this bunch of rambunctious, crazy, difficult, amazing kids.
And I’m pretty grateful for their part in making a whole new world for me, too.