Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came out when I was two years old, but one of the things my parents did really well was raise me on good music and good movies, and I watched this film about a million times when I was little. As an adult, it’s 100% funnier because you get more jokes, but even as a kid you could recognize the meaning behind the iconic line here:
I feel this line every once in a while. As a teacher, we move in seasons. We plan. We scope and sequence. And the holidays aren’t a few days on a calendar, it’s a six-week season always seems like just a blur of events and projects we’re bracing ourselves for, barely able to enjoy. The kids are crazy, there are a zillion things to do, and I’m a month away from deciding if I’m staying in Rio for another year or going back to the Bay Area (presumably) so I can. . . . . figure something else out. Start over. Again.
As I face this decision, the nice thing is at least it’s just me I’m in charge of. I don’t have a husband or a pet or even have a plant that will be affected by whatever I decide. Because all three of the plants died. We had named one Phyllis for some reason and placed her where a TV would go in a normal house, but even a name wasn’t enough to help me remember to feed her water.
But I think of ‘home’ and I miss my sisters more than I can say. We’re so connected on facebook and snapchat and instagram and text constantly, but California is six hours behind me, so there’s only so much of the day we’re really live. It’s getting kind of annoying to miss every family dinner and birthday or just an evening in the backyard.
My mom is stepping up her “come home” campaign. Besides the almost daily photos and videos of the puppy, she’s started talking about things like sourdough bread. She’s carbo-loading my texts. And it’s true that on the mini-list I’ve started for the USA I wrote “food.” But that’s also on the list for Brazil – “I have yet to eat all there is to eat here.”
There have been a lot of things lately that make me think my time here isn’t over. I went to my first Brazilian wedding this weekend, and although there were some differences, it was the same. I still got super weepy (I’m that weirdo sitting in my living room at night watching wedding videos online of people I don’t know just because I like to feel happy for people)
and danced my face off to ABBA and probably had too much champagne. I snuggled up with all my friends’ babies and had heart to hearts with girls in bathrooms the way you do at weddings when emotions are raw and happiness is so close to the surface.
Professionally, I get to do a lot of things I love here besides the teaching. I lead worship, attempt to professionally develop people, plan random events that are mostly attended by the staff (still calling Disco Bingo a win! Most fun night.), and try to face with humor and grace the challenge and the curse that is inventing my job every day because every student is different every day. I feel like I’m trusted by my admins and respected by my peers (mooooost of the time).
I am in a place where I feel really good about teaching. It’s easy to be good at things and not necessarily love them; it’s harder to find things that challenge you and are fulfilling and that you love most of the time. There’s a lot about teaching that causes internal screaming. But that’s also just working with people. There’s a lot of work and “other duties as assigned” involved. And for being the one profession that leads to all other professions, it’s a freaking underpaid and ‘preciated profession worldwide, but especially in the States.
But in the end, teaching means you get to hang out with kids and like-minded weirdos all day. For better or for worse. I get to remember how strange it is to be a teenager, where you think it’s cool to be negative and sarcastic all the time, and you mostly hate yourself, and you’re secretly scared of everything but excited by it, too. Working with littles, I get to experience second hand the joy that is learning to read, or what multiplication is, or how the water cycle works. My hug tank is always full, and there is always something to laugh at, and always a new puzzle to solve. I get to be creative and silly and sing songs, and the weirder you get, the more they seem to love you.
Carol Young, a woman I’ve known forever, passed away this weekend. When I first got to know her on missions trips when I was 13, I thought she was 120 years old. She was tiny, wrinkly, piercing blue eyes and a quick wit. She always wore a fanny pack and could talk for hours and could command a room full of people and sometimes said inappropriate things the way old people do when they’ve lived long enough to stop caring about being PC or overly polite. When she was too old to go on the trips herself, I would take turns driving her car, affectionately named “Forever Young,” and we would reminisce about her finer moments.
She gave financially and of her time and climbed into our bunk beds every night as the Candy Fairy to deliver Milky Ways and other treats on a mission trip to brighten our spirits but mostly I will remember the way she spoke into my life and my talents and my destiny, saying things that were hard to hear sometimes, hard to accept. She would tell me what I was good at, that I was important, that I was special. And even when I was a surly teenager and pretended I didn’t care, she kept speaking. When I was 15 she would pull me aside and say “you’re important and you’re necessary and nothing would be the same without you.” It put a lot of pressure on me to keep coming on the trip, but thank God it did.
She cared deeply and loved hard and because of her investment in me, I felt responsible to her, to be a good person, to keep coming on mission trips, to be good at the good she saw in me. And those trips saved my life, and in a roundabout way, got me into what I studied in university, into traveling, into teaching.
I know she’s dancing with Jesus and arguing with someone right now on the other side, and I’m grateful for that, and grateful for the influence she was in my life, and can only hope to be some of the same to others. I think I can do that through teaching. Maybe through blogging. Anyway. Pray for me as I try to figure out the location I’m to do these things in? :)
In the meantime, I vlogged some of the daily. Click below to see. And if you need to hear it and you haven’t yet today – you’re important and you’re necessary and nothing would be the same without you.