Stuff Kindergartners Say

Yesterday morning I wore my hair down to school. I mostly did this because I ran out of time and didn’t have the chance to put it up in my typical top-knot, messy-bun style. I always wear my hair up to work because I’m convinced that every child in kindergarten is, if not infected, at least a vehicle for head-lice.

I’m feeling itchy just thinking about it.

Anyway. As soon as he entered the classroom one student threw down his backpack, ran over to me, and said, “Mrs. Muether! Mrs. Muether! Why is your hair doing that? It’s failing!”

I’m not sure if this insightful Kindergartner thought that I’d attempted to put my hair up and it was falling [and he’d just said that wrong word] or if he thought that my hair looked so terrible that it was literally failing. I will never know the answer to this. Today I’m back to the traditional up-do.

Last week I wore dangly earrings. One kid, in the middle of literacy centers, grabbed my earring [while it was still in my ear] and said, “Mrs. Muether! Why is there pink water in your ears?” I had no answer to that question.

During story time we help the children expand their vocabulary by choosing three words from the book to discuss the definitions of before we read. They then watch out for the word as we read as a class. When asked, “What does ‘tarry’ mean?” One kindergartner replied, “It’s what the mailman does when he brings the mail.” I assume this is how he feels while waiting for a Birthday Card or gift to arrive in the mail.

In addition to these strange outbursts Kindergartners sometimes just plain get words mixed up. One girl, while trying to tell us she went to a ‘fun party’ actually ended up informing the class, in a loud, carrying voice, that she had spent her Saturday at a ‘Fart Party’ – the other teacher and I took several minutes to regain composure and do some damage control.

Additionally in Kindergarten we have been learning a lot about giving compliments to our friends. If a child is doing a kind thing for another then they may get a leaf on the Tree of Kindness with their good deed written upon it for all to see. Yesterday multiple Kindergarteners told me how lovely they thought my tights were. My tights were plain, solid, opaque, black. One child told me, “Mrs. Muether, you’re a game.” Did he mean Dame? Did he mean that I am fun to play games with? I still haven’t figured it out.

If something falls on the floor a clump of Kindergartners will race toward it to pick it up first in order to get their very own leaf on the Tree of Kindness. Of course, if we do a kind deed and then rush to tell a teacher about the kind thing we just did we will not get a leaf on the tree. If we did that, as one friend told me, it would be the Tree of Boasting, and not the Tree of Kindness.

So far on this Thursday morning I have received only one compliment I’m beginning to wonder if I have something on my face.

I’m really busy right now

Here is a typical young-adult conversation:

“How are you?”

“Good! Really busy right now.”

Not only does this response not appropriately answer the question, but our response demonstrates what we expect others to want to hear. We, especially those of us who are young, feel that we need to be busy all the time. And, of course, the implication comes with the idea that we’re supposed to be busy with certain types of things.

I find that the ideal of being busy is adult peer-pressure. If I have a day off work, and stay home and tidy the house and maybe do some laundry and watch some TV and read some interesting articles online, I am doing things. Some of these things are important, some of them are necessary for me to relax, recharge, and be enabled to face the upcoming workweek. When asked on one of these days by a friend or peer, “how are you?” I don’t usually feel comfortable giving the response, “I’m not doing much today” unless I follow it with some kind of excuse [I’ve been really busy lately, I wasn’t feeling too well, I had some unexpected free-time,  my plans were cancelled]. Why should I feel guilty for watching a few re-runs of Stargate SG1 on my morning off work? Especially if I’m watching it while folding laundry. But I do feel guilty.

Being busy, I think, is one of the idols of my generation. This likely stems from college life where we keep tight schedules and late nights. As a result we enter the adult world with the idea that if we’re not kept running from thing to thing with reckless abandon that we’re not doing enough. That we’re lazy. That we’re not well-rounded. Being busy is not actually the problem here. The notion that being busy is the ideal is marring our idea of what true fulfillment should look like.

Each person is different. Some people are more introverted and need time to decompress after a long day of socializing at work. No person of this character should feel guilty for taking some time alone. Others are more extroverted and find relaxation in talking nonstop about their day and what’s happening for the rest of the week and what might happen tomorrow [I’m this kind of person]. This person should not feel guilty for sitting over a cup of coffee and talking to their spouse.

Neither the introvert nor the extrovert need feel that they must do something after work or school. A 9-5 day at the office is more than enough. If someone wished to volunteer, attend classes, work out, attend a sports event, or go to a church meeting all those things are fine, good. But, if they’re causing so much stress that, when asked “how are you doing?” we gasp and sigh and say, “I’m really busy right now” then we’re doing too much. We’re succumbing to the peer-pressure. We’re equating “busy” with “fulfilled” and the two are not the same thing.

So. How do we escape from the peer-pressure invading our regular language? Creating the mindset that you “get” to do something after work instead of “have” to do something after work is likely to be one of the most helpful ways to aid you in this changed mindset.

Filling our schedules with things that are rewarding and help us to grow will enable us to avoid that stressed-out busy feeling. If we’re doing things we love instead of just doing things for the sake of being busy then we will find ourselves to be less concerned with being busy and more concerned with the tasks themselves.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates

 

 

Twenty-Somethings

It’s on every job application, entry-level or not, “Required: 3-5 years of work experience in a related field.” What’s a post-college grad to do? Work full time through college in a job we’re not yet qualified for? This dilemma, in my opinion, sums up the mid-twenties, post-college drama that seems to be slowly unfolding on my twitter feed and facebook home page.

Our anniversary this past weekend caused me to consider all that has been going on for the past year. Someone told me that if we survived the first year and were happy, still excited to be together, then that was a good sign for a long and happy marriage. I thought everything went swimmingly, so I guess that’s good. We’re still crazy in love.

But not everything went swimmingly. For us, and for our close friends in their twenties, the year came with it’s own messes.

 We [my friends and I] are in our mid twenties. We have good educations from esteemed institutions of higher education, we are people of faith, we dream big, live within our means, and we work hard. But we struggle [to varying degrees] with unemployment, underemployment, finding health insurance at an affordable rate, we struggle with paying bills, divorces, life-threatening illnesses, falling-down-houses, broken families, broken churches, broken cars, and infertility. We didn’t know life was going to be so complicated or so hard.

 Only a few of the aforementioned things apply to me. But, I can assure you, that to a greater or lesser degree they apply to all of the mid-twenties that I know.  I don’t know if we were taught that it would be easy. I think I was taught that it wouldn’t be. We keep waiting for the day when we’ll have the All-American white picket fence and a savings account. And while we wait, we work 2 jobs each, coach soccer, volunteer our afternoons, pay our college loans, and hope against hope that the smoke we smell in the car is actually the car in front of us, or someone burning leaves

 I’m not sure what my conclusion is yet. I’m not sure if these struggles are things we will grow out of. Will we have two-car garages, 2.5 children, and life insurance by the time we’re 35? Maybe. But whether we have those things or not I know that we’ll have one thing by then: that elusive “3-5 years of work experience in a related field.”