So with all of this spinning in my brain, some inner guide kicked in to remind me that I was now ten minutes away from my next class and on survival alert, the imagination kicked into gear and began reviewing the day’s planned classes. Some nuances emerged and new ideas surfaced and suddenly the armored body preparing to simply get through the day softened and looked forward to it all. My first class began with some good-humored banter with my 6th graders and off they went to play “Canta canta pajarito, canta canta tu canción, mira que la vida es triste y tu cantar me alegra el corazon.” The song claims that in this sad life, the bird’s happy song makes my heart glad. And sure enough, it did and does everytime I hear it. As did every song, dance, game and piece I did with all the different ages today. Maybe that fellow was right— it’s all just too much damned fun to qualify as work!
At least, until you try to do it. Bobby McFerrin, a former school parent, once told me how he took the 3rd grade to a recording studio for his son’s birthday to record a song and came out from the experience looking up sanatoriums in the phone book. He confessed to me, with an admiring tone, that it was—and I quote—“the hardest work he had ever done.”
It’s now 6 pm and I not only made it through, but enjoyed just about every moment of it. The weekend awaits with all its glory, well-deserved and hard-earned. Never mind the school auction fund-raiser tomorrow night, the piano lesson, the concert related to my field, the organizing the chaos of the week’s papers and preparing the next week’s classes. It will be nice—and necessary—to have some space and some relief from the constant chatter of the little darlings.
Oh, and I promised the secret revelation of teaching. Well, no big surprise that it all boils down to our most over-used and ambivalent word— love. Love for the kids, love for the subject, love for the whole nine yards of whatever your passion, hopefully wedded to your work, may be. No matter how exhausting the demand is, love is both the fire within and the constant guiding star. It all is endurable and often pleasurable and sometimes extraordinary when love is at the helm. And being the fickle thing that it is, we can’t depend on it to be as constant as we would like. When love fades, our work suffers and we suffer and if we’re teachers, our kids suffer. When it begins to glow again, ain’t nothing we can do to capture it and make it stay. Just be grateful for the grace.