Even more important than penicillin.

I hear people talk about what they believe is the most important discovery or invention. Some joke about sliced bread while others tell the tales of penicillin. Both of those are pretty sweet but today I made my own discovery that pushes things like penicillin to number two.

Today was solo and trio ensemble competition day. Hundreds of local high school kids gathered today to perform. This is one shot of the warm up area, can you hear maybe fifty instruments all playing individual pieces? It is unlike any other noise I have ever experienced.

Sam had a trio at about ten and her solo at three. We did drive home between the two but that meant I had to sit in the warm up area for a while today. It is so oddly loud it is hard to think, talk or do pretty much anything. I am guessing most of the kids fit right in due to the noise of their own music programs at school.

Today I brought what I firmly believe is the single most important invention so far. Once I slipped these on I was transported to another world, almost as if on vacation. I was able to disappear from the cacophony and enter a tranquil world.

These noise canceling headphones might have saved my life today.

The intimidation of the secret language.

I was in a series of interviews today and as the hours slipped by I had some thoughts.

I recalled some of the IEPs I sat in on over the years. We would talk about goals, progress, and percentages. While most of it made sense to me I am positive some of the parents had no idea what we were talking about.

I’m sure some were silent because they didn’t want to look foolish by asking.

My first years in the classroom was kinda like that, it was like everyone was speaking a language I really didn’t fully understand. There were times I just nodded my head and pretended to know.

Years before that I was immersed in a different culture with their own language. We used acronyms for everything for the food we ate to the activities that filled our days and nights. An outsider coming in would be somewhat lost and confused. A field day is when we cleaned for hours, a police call was picking up trash and being secure meant time off. these are some quick examples of our odd language.

Today we interviewed a few firms who applied during our RFQ process. I’m not entirely sure but I think it was Request For Quote. These things have their own set of rules that you have to follow to give everyone the same exact information without any variation.

These firms came in and talked with use for 45 minutes. They used short abbreviations for their qualifications and processes they used. I was a bit lost and there wasn’t a ton of time to go deep into what these things meant. While these things might not have been super important it had me thinking.

My take away is that I need to create a sheet or a site that I can share when embarking on something new. Maybe it should be for Canvas, as that is new to most of us, or anything that we are venturing into that might be unfamiliar to the people we are working with.

I’m sure I would arrested if I gave this speech today.

Well maybe not arrested but detained and social services called for sure.

To give this a little context we need to take a journey back to my high school days. School and me were like oil and water, we really didn’t mix. I hated everything about school and school hated everything about me.

Week two of my first year in high school I was pulled out of class. The guy told me I was not smart enough, his actual words, to learn Spanish so he was placing me in a study class.

In my third year of high school I moved to a much smaller town where, it felt, everyone kinda knew each other. I knew no one. There were days when I never spoke. I made it a game to see how many days in a row I could go without speaking to anyone, kids or teachers. There were days when I met up with my sister, she went to a different high school, and it was hard to talk because I hadn’t talked for hours.

I’m not bitter. I look back on these days more thankful than not, those days helped me grow so much.

There was one social studies class that I did talk just once. The teacher was lecturing on and talking about something when he made a mistake. Little did he know I did read the book, the whole book. I knew a lot about what he was talking about but I would never share that. Any test I just put random answer down because it didn’t matter. When I heard the mistake I knew what page in the book where the answer was and my hand shot up. He stopped in his tracks and just stared at me, I had never participated in anything. The whole class turned to look, shocked. I asked him to look at a certain paragraph on a page where he could find the correct answer. He was floored. The class was floored. Who was this weirdo who just called out the teacher? I don’t think I ever talked again and the teacher never talked to me about it.

I think it was my fourth year when I had to take speech again because I failed the first time. The first time I never gave a speech, I didn’t do anything.

The teacher was frustrated that she told me I could give a speech on anything I wanted, I just needed to do one to pass. People were giving speeches about prom, making lunches, topics that were so foreign to me.

I told her I wanted to do a speech on improvised explosives. I said this partly because I was interested and partly because I thought she would say no. She said yes if I had some sort of resources. So I pulled this book out of my bag.

Her eyes grew but then told me to mark the pages I wanted to use as transparencies. I had make about 15 of them of various pages.

The day came and I talked for maybe fifteen minutes. The class was dead silent. I’m sure partly because of the content and partly due to me, I never talked.

Did I ever act upon anything I talked about in the civilian world? Nope. I was super passionate about the ideas presented in the book, it was fascinating.

If a student asked to speak on these topics today what would happen?

I have a black belt in waiting.

There are not too many things I am super good at but I am an expert in waiting.

I stopped by one of our middle schools today to check on a special project and the principal happened to call me just as I was about to leave. As I got to the office I noticed she was in a meeting so I sat down. And waited. And waited.

Some of the staff apologized that I had to wait. I didn’t tell them but I have a secret, I am a master at waiting. I have spent years of my life waiting. I waited in lines to wait in lines.

Here I am somewhere in the middle of some body of water. I sat in the wind tunnel for what seemed like weeks. We had to line up here waiting for chow most every day. There were days when all we had on where short and t shirts freezing in the 80+ degree weather. Prior to that we spent a month or two in 120+ degree weather so a 40 degree drop was pretty big.

I spent some days just standing in one line only to move to the next line. I stood in line to get paid one day only to find they had run out of everything but five dollar bills. We didn’t have bank accounts at the time so they had to pay us in cash. I had a huge wad of bills stuff into my Super Mario wallet. I felt wealthy.

Wait a few extra minutes for a principal? No problem.

Tiny conversations

Today is one of those days that never ends. Get to campus a bit after seven in the morning and will leave after eight tonight. I know many of you can relate at how long the days stretches when the kids have a concert or an event at night. The day just doesn’t end.

The one tiny advantage is we have to go out for dinner. Tonight it was just Sam and I. The downside is it had to be somewhat fast so there wasn’t a lot of time.

It is funny, some days Sammi is a fountain of words, just non-stop talking. No one really needs to listen she will just talk. Tonight was the opposite, just single one-syllable word answers. Her mood was fine but I guess she just didn’t want to talk that much.

But at one point she did just spirt this long-winded story about something. I can’t remember what it was about and it really didn’t matter. It was like a golden moment in time. Somewhere deep inside I got a little sad. I started to realize that we only have a few short years left and then she is off to whatever comes next after high school. Somewhere deep inside I started missing her.

Don’t Steal the Struggle

It is wicked easy to just jump in and do it for them but if you do will they ever learn?

It snowed a tiny bit here which means there are driveways to be shoveled. I used to do it all but lately, I have been having the kids join me.

Today I decided to let them do it all on their own. My 15-year-old daughter was really unhappy about it. She claimed she had no idea how and it wasn’t fair that I was asking her to do it. All my logical answers were not helping the cause. I figured stepping into the cold would cool that down pretty quick.

Our short driveway was already cleared so we headed up the street to take care of one of our neighbors. They are semi-retired and need help with this chore. I started doing it a few years ago and have kept it up winter after winter.

I started to give a few small pointers to Sam and stepped back. She was having a ton of difficulty at first. I verbally gave her a few ideas and then let the minutes tick on by. After maybe five minutes I did take the shovel to show her one more technique.

She was not exactly thrilled.

The end result was pretty good! I was impressed.

As we walked home another older gentleman leaned out his door and asked if we were done for the day. I responded yes thinking he was just making conversation not really realizing he was asking for our help. As my son explained to me what he was saying we quickly turned around and started on his drive.

Sam got more practice in with using the shovel. While she wasn’t happy I could tell something had shifted in her.

When we got home Jenn asked how it all went. I noticed Sam had this smile on her face which she quickly tried to hide by running out of the room. I could recognize it, she was proud.

I think I could have shoveled for her but what would she have learned? I let the struggle happen and greatness followed.

I know this tiny glimmer of pride in her is something I might not see for some time. Teens are hard people to live with!