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Friday, December 14, 2012

LAST



Everything has new meaning. With my oldest being a senior, every time we do something, I want it to last and wonder if it is the last time we'll do this or that. I want him to remember that I love him.
As you build your life and legacy, you want it to last.
You never know when you're putting in the last piece.
Photo credit: Big Stock

I have been berated by an anonymous commenter previously for sharing my thoughts about my oldest son on this blog. I was told I should just write him a letter and not share my thoughts on my blog. However, I have decided that

  1. This my blog and I do my best to share what I think will encourage and help others and 
  2. There are universal truths in these experiences. When I share my personal experiences, my posts have life and aren't the sanitized, generic plasti-posts on the blogs of the bots & spammers just trying to get traffic.


While this post is inspired by my children, it is written for you -mostly adults and mostly educators - as you ponder the gifts that sit in your chairs each day.
Enjoy even the frustrating moments like teaching how to tie on a shoe.
They only come once.  Photo Credit: istockphoto

When your children are little, you get absolutely SICK of people telling you
"enjoy them while they are little, the time goes too fast." 
You think you know how fast time goes, until you wake up one day and that toddler you threw on your hip or that child that you held and talked to through the night on the day he was born, is now 6'6" and towering over you with big arms and a deep, bellowing voice. Something happened and you had no idea that it REALLY would. Just like the fifth grader who couldn't comprehend that she'd be graduating in 8 short years, you don't truly understand that they WILL grow into adults and leave your house. If you did, you (and I) would act differently. Not so assuming.

Last. I'm just not ready for that last time he'll come into my classroom wanting a water out of the fridge. I'm not ready for that last school day where I make his green tea latte and leave it on the table in the morning and hope he eats the fresh steaming biscuits and ham I've left for him. I'm still reeling from his last football game -- I'm going to miss it. Heading to a basketball game tonight- we have another month but I know that this wasn't meant to last either.

Solomon is right - there's a time for every purpose under heaven. There's a time for first games and there's a time for last. It isn't like he'll never play a pickup game with his buddies or that he's no longer going to hit my kitchen table for a latte and ham biscuit.

But then again, we never know with these children. Children are a gift. Every human being has the potential to be a gift -- even though some choose to act like a curse -- we all have the potential for good. We each are a mix of good and bad in many ways.

But, tonight as you look at that toddler sleeping and take that wispy tendril of hair and tuck it behind her ear or as you wrestle just one more time with your son who can't get enough of trying to attack dad when he's exhausted - just think of this word - LAST.

You never know when any moment will be your last.

When your child is a senior, you KNOW it - you know that there are things that won't happen again. It is the knowing that makes the difference.

But really, we should know it at every moment with every child -- not so we can spoil them and treat them like a bubble boy- but so we can treasure those moments.

As I read Mitch Albom's riveting new book,The Time Keeper (a GREAT read for people of all ages, by the way), it hit me just how precious time is. The fact that it is scarce is what makes it so precious.

So, in many ways, these last moments are like the last bite of the best pecan pie you've ever eaten -- delicious. You are ready to be "done" - knowing you have no more room for any more - but yet, you want to enjoy it one last time. Just one... more.... bite.

Truthfully, when it was time to have my children, I was so miserable, that I would have done whatever it took to bring them into this world. And, likewise, I really think that with most of us, when it is time for our children to go - we're ready for it - as hard as it is - we are ready to send them off.

As we await my son's letter from his #1 choice for college, his Dad's and my alma mater, Georgia Tech, I just look at him daily and think of the world - LAST.

I know these things aren't meant to last. In some ways I want them to last. I want to enjoy each thing because I know very soon, he'll be out there in this world and I hope that he'll tackle it and do work that is meant to LAST.

I was reading about a list of things that people over 100 wished. (Can't find source, I heard it in the LIfe Habits Podcast this week.) They wished they had spent their time on more things that would last past their own lifetime. For me, it is my children, my students, Flat Classroom, writing things to inspire and encourage others, and the work and my beautiful, wonderful church, Sherwood. Nothing lasts. It will all be gone one day...even this precious child of mine...because death runs in my family and if you haven't checked, it runs in yours too.

As I watch Jane McGonigal's TED speech "The game that can give you 10 extra years of life" talks about other regrets of the dying. Of course, her conclusion is that gaming is the solution to life isn't in line with my own thoughts, but she has some great points worth pondering.


We get these feelings and have milestones pressed upon us so that we will look at our lives and see if we are spending time doing things that will last. Anything else is just grasping the wind.

Write these four letters down on your planner or something today L-A-S-T and ponder the multiple meanings of this word. I hope that I'm right and the anonymous commenter was wrong, that by sharing these words you've decided to take a hard look at your life and do things that will last.

Now, I have one more thing to mention that some of you may not like. You can read Vicki's blog about being all hunky dory with your life and think positively about things, but just as not every student is an A student (wish some parents would realize that) not all of you are in jobs that fit your talents.

This morning, I read my daily Rick Warren devotional (author of the Purpose Driven Life) and he says:

"To fulfill God's will for your life, you need work that expresses what God made you to be. If you're in a job that is not using the talents, gifts, abilities, and interests that God gave you, you may want to pray about whether or not you're in a mismatched job.

This is a serious problem, and it's a spiritual issue. It is far more important than you may think it is -- because God has given you your gifts, talents, and abilities, and one day He's going to say, "What did you do with them?" And do you want to say, "Well, I spent my life at a job that didn't use them." "

Right now isn't a good time to think about whether you should be teaching or doing anything else... you're too tired if you're an educator. But I think there are some business people out there who are called to be teachers and not doing it...I think there are those who are afraid to move into education even though it is their calling.

There are also, perhaps, some people who are teachers and know it isn't a fit. I'm not talking about the pretty frequent "Can I do this?" exhaustion thoughts that EVERY good teacher I know has -- but those who just know that they hate children and don't like to teach.

I tell my students that although not everyone makes an "A" but that they are all "A" people. Every person is born an "A" as a person -- and you are the same way. You may not be an "A" teacher but you are an "A" person. Your job is to find the job that lets you use your talents best.

I cringe to write this because far too many very good, called teachers have left, not because of the teaching or students but because of screwed up administration, chaotic curriculum decisions, and a political climate that has politicized education beyond what is healthy. You all need to stay in the game or come back - you know you love to teach - you just need to find the place where you can do it.

But if you hate kids -- you shouldn't teach. That's all we do, children. And if you want to last in your legacy, working with them but hating them underneath it all, won't build one - it will just build a legacy of hurt and pain and make everyone, including you, miserable in the process.

Last.

For me, I have to mention that, without the first and the last - the Alpha and Omega - Jesus Christ - I wouldn't even be writing these words. I've just had my 7th blog-birthday. I was called to write just as clear as I call my kids to dinner every night.

It is an honor to serve and write for you -- I know many of you differ with me here and there in your beliefs and that often I have typos and misspeak - for in many words there is much foolishness and I certainly type wayyyyy too many words sometimes. But you read anyway, thank you. I don't deserve your grace but am grateful for it.

Yet, as I write for you, I have an honest, genuine caring for you, the reader, who made it this far in this blog post. That somehow some of you who are struggling to make sense of why you'd want to even be in a profession that demands so much -- that you'll know how important your work is and how unique you are to be the kind of person who can do this. I always wonder what this generation will rise up and say in 20 years about our generation of educators. Did we do things that will help our society last and improve into the future?

I don't ever wonder if teaching is worth it. Sometimes I wonder if blogging is worth it. For the most part, there are many great positives of blogging. But when you're someone like me -- a person who watches people and really ponders things deeply and also an exhausted Mom and teacher who works 18 hour days far more than I should - when I get these drive by commenters or emailers intent on "setting me straight" or "fixing me," it is hard. My pastor, Michael Catt (@michaelcatt) does a great job of just unfollowing and tuning out haters and I need to do that better, but I still don't yet. I ponder and ask myself if there is a bit of truth in the criticism and have to work through it deeply until I come through with an answer. More often than not, I realize that an element of truth is in the criticism but I have to reject their assertions that I'm a worthless person and shouldn't be writing. This is what I'm called to do, and here I am - 7 years into it and not planning to stop no matter those who have told me to. I have to wonder the life that some people live who have the need to act ugly to a stranger.

By now, you're thinking this blog post is going to LAST forever. But I guess once every year, I'm allowed to write a bit about these things. ;-)

Last thought for you...

What have you done or will you do today that will last past the end of your life?

If you don't like your answer...do something about it.

LAST.


- Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds
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