Today Little Buddy and I made the drive down the 280 to Santa Teresa High School to cheer on Cousin as she taught English to class after class of squirrelly freshmen. Clad in matching houndstooth cap and a puffy gray pants with attached suspenders, Cancan, of course, stole the show without batting an eye, providing the best-of distractions to the tribes of 14 and 15 year olds who gladly accept any excuse not to talk about paraphrasing and plagiarism and the rest of the day’s lessons. (Sorry, Miss D). Eventually she figured out that the best way to capture their adolescent attention was to walk around with Mr. Houndstooth in tote, so she did.
To say I was proud of my “little” cousin is an understatement – because I saw her world and the place in which she naturally comes alive. I saw the respect and admiration her students have for her, and the eagerness with which they begged for Miss D stories. “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done together?” “What’s your best memory ever with Miss D?” “How old is she? When was she born?” And so we kept it PG, and told stories about taking her to get her nose pierced in Seattle when she was still a little too much under the tutelage of her father’s kindly wrath, and of how we played HEY COW whilst driving the long, stretched out I-5 corridor from Washington to California, much to the chagrin of the innocent bovine bystanders. I told them how she sang at our wedding, and within seconds every iPhone was out, ready to record American Idol’s next great singing sensation. (And, for your information, we did then harmoniously bust out “You are my Sunshine” to an instantaneously quiet room C-2. Watch out, Youtube).
These teenagers wanted to get to know their teacher because she’s taken the time to get to know them. She’s proven that she cares, and like eager puppies at the water bowl, they lap up this love like it’s nobody’s business. And in that way, for right now, Miss D is right where she’s supposed to be.
I couldn’t be more proud.
At one point, Miss D called me up to the front, letting the students ask as many questions as they wanted (which, students, if the same opportunity is ever awarded to you, pull out your best reporter skills and milk it for all its worth – it’s like the best invitation ever not to have to do your work). And as she gave them a little 15-second bio on me, my mind reeled over with all the jobs I’ve had in my lifetime:
High school: server at Izzy’s Pizza & Rockin’ Rogers, insurance telemarketer (after I got fired from the second waitressing gig), security guard at the Oregon State Fair.
College: caterer, front desk worker, tree counter, RA, YMCA lifeguard, YL student staff, Starbucks barista, Frontier Ranch “red hat” and program team.
Grown-up years: English teacher, leadership advisor, YL middle school director & area director, substitute teacher, retreat and camp speaker.
And now: mama, writer, speaker – kind of, mostly, sort of. No, really. I’m still buying into it and accepting it, I suppose. I still haven’t bought the business cards yet.
It’s easy for me to build a seemingly concrete wall around me, thinking that every decision and every action is utterly permanent in nature. But when I look at a list of the aforementioned jobs, I’m reminded of the changing, constant motion of life itself. There is a time for everything, writes Solomon, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1). The feelings and emotions that sometimes creep in, invading my mind, yelling at my heart, making me question the current strivings after a career in writing and mama-hood (or whatever fill-in-the-blank activity one wants to insert) – they’re not forever, they’re not permanent.
I feel like I’m living in the midst of Ecclesiastes right now, in that in-between, restless spot of waiting and wanting and yearning and hoping under this unique umbrella called change – but even that is okay. I’m under his banner, in heaven’s kingdom right here on earth, and for today, it’s enough.
What about you? What’s your craziest job ever? Are you living in the midst of Ecclesiastes, too? Let’s converse!0