A few years ago, I was pregnant with Noel and teaching 9th grade. I wasn't an awesome pregnant person - I was a sick pregnant person. I threw up every morning, had horrible acne, hated my maternity clothes, and ate during every class to stave off the nausea. I hated running into people that said things like "I loved being pregnant - I got sick a few times, but saltines always solved it." Those comments didn't help.
The other thing that didn't help was a student in 3rd period. I'll call him Cody. I would give directions, Cody wouldn't listen. I would ask for the students to be quiet during a test, Cody would talk to his neighbor. I would teach a lesson, Cody did anything but participate. Somehow we survived the year, though neither of us was sad when we said goodbye.
Fast-forward to the present. I presented scholarship material to the current Junior Class for a few days this week, prepping them for their senior year. Cody was there, but it was a completely different experience. It took me by surprise, but why?
The reality is this: we've both changed. I'm not pregnant and moody, Cody is no longer a 9th grader. Looking back, I can see a micro-managing teacher. I had to have absolute silence during my lessons; I needed 100% attention when I spoke. During the presentation this week, I noticed Cody made comments a few times to his neighbor. And I did nothing about it, because it didn't matter. He was probably making a comment about something I said - or maybe he was saying, "I can't wait for lunch." And it was okay. Because it just wasn't that big of a deal. He was still respectful - sitting in the front, asking questions, and remembering to take the handouts with him. In 9th grade, he would have crumpled them up on the floor, then asked me for them again the next day.
I ended the presentations, and looked back at how far we've both come.
I have two children under two - and I've obviously learned how to chill out. I can't micro-manage Noel, and I certainly can't micro-manage a teenager. I don't have a perfect kitchen, and I don't expect a perfect classroom. I have to laugh at myself, and I'm okay that others laugh with me...or at me.
Cody is 17 years old and has grown-up from his freshman days. Instead of resisting help from adults, he's accepting it. Instead of saying "I'll respect you when you respect me", he simply gives respect because he wants to. He still doesn't laugh at himself (how many 17-year-olds do?), but he is more than willing to laugh with me at my foibles.
The wonder is not that we go through life experiences - those are bound to happen. The wonder of it all is when we change. And allow others to change as well.