I taught all-day arts and crafts classes to 5- to 14-year olds yesterday and today at Corbin Art Center. I didn't have to plan or prep, just show up and teach. But WHEW! I am tired!!! Most of the kids are really great, creative and fun. A couple of younger girls started to miss their moms and cried -- I think they were very tired and/or coming down with something. And I did have a couple of challenging students, but I didn't have to sit anyone out in the hallway, so I guess it went as well as it could. Bless them for teaching me patience!
Days like these remind me why I am not going to go get my master's degree in teaching. I could not do this for a living every day. I like to be in the classroom with kids in short bursts, but I need long periods of solitude and quiet as well. I am fairly solitary by nature. I admire those who do well leading groups of people. Bless the teachers!
Honestly, I think most kids overload at Christmas. Every parent I've talked to this week has said the same thing: their kids' behavior has been awful. Siblings are bickering about everything under the sun. Singletons are regressing and are simply obnoxious. My son tries hard, but he's bouncing off the walls half the time. And with lousy wet weather, you can't tell them to go run around the back yard to blow off steam.
I love A Charlie Brown Christmas. I watch it every year. But as I age, I find it more and more quaint, almost a curiosity. The characters talk about how "commercial" Christmas is getting. Well, I'm 44 years old. Christmas was commercial in my childhood, for pity's sake, and now look at it. The energy that surrounds this beautiful holiday can be so wrong. The kids are all freaking out because they're wound up about what they're going to get. The siblings have that competition thing pushed into overdrive. ("If my brothers/sisters get more and better stuff than I do, then my parents don't love me as much as they love them.") The "gimme" energy sucks them into a massive, whirling vortex, and they have no idea that they're being sucked in. They don't know that they don't have to live in that state. They have no idea how to resist it. And we parents tend to get sucked in, as well. We can't help our kids because we don't even see our part in it.
I know that I act unconsciously. Women (especially) in this culture tend to get the big "to-do" list in our heads at this time of year. Many of us have been trained that we are the ones who "do Christmas." But what message are we giving our kids when we do the decorating and shopping and cooking and wrapping, and then we are exhausted and distracted and crabby with them? My heart knows that my child needs my love and attention much more than he needs to decorate homemade sugar cookies. I am slowly learning to act upon what my heart knows. I can help my child avoid the vortex, but I have to be present and paying attention first.
I am relearning how to celebrate Christmas. My own child shall lead me.