A New World

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.

artistic, I know.

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.

Spring Cleaning

Although it doesn’t feel much like spring here (Montana in March…lots of slushy, flurry fun) it’s still time for some major cleaning in my life.

My cousin is coming to visit (yay! I just spent two months with her in Southeast Asia and the separation anxiety is rough) and in this household, every time a visitor comes the house must be scoured from top to bottom, a.k.a everything shoved under beds, into closets, and the guest room (at the moment, my room, but whatever) will be scrubbed and vacuumed.

You should know this about me now: I hate cleaning. I especially hate cleaning at my parents’ house, which has accumulated the massive amounts of crap left behind by three in-and-out college students and my pack-rat parents for almost twenty years now, which makes any kind of cleaning twice as annoying due to the need to shift the endless piles and piles. It’s definitely hypocritical of me to hate the cleaning because a lot of the piles are certainly mine, but I hate it anyway.

(My parents have always given me a lot of flack for being a pack-rat…but after helping my dad clean out his office and helping my mother clean out their closet, I have full proof of my genes screwing me over when I was still a twinkle in the eye).

So, in between interviews (still no job, although I actually have a few strong leads and might be getting paid to write soon) I have been dragging myself around the house, cleaning and organizing. I proudly filled an entire tub full of give-away clothes, many of which were unfortunately “why did I buy this?” or “when did I buy this?” or “is this seriously the shirt I was wearing in my yearbook picture when I was a sophomore in high school?”

One thing I’ve found to make scrubbing part of the process easier: Kaboom. It’s probably a little immature that I bought it just because it changes color (from purple to white) when it’s clean, but hey, it makes me actually do the cleaning, so that’s something, right?

Another reason for the (somewhat) deep cleaning is my impending relocation. I’m not officially moving yet, but it WILL happen (rah rah rah!). And when I actually get a job and do move away, I want the process to not take the entire summer, and I definitely do not want to merely shove my leftover belongings in the basement like the rest of my family, a crime I have also been committing for awhile now…is there any hope for me?

Okay, now that I’ve procrastinated some more, I feel guilty enough about not cleaning to propel me into working for oh, half an hour or so, nonstop!

Talk about rah, rah, rah!