Tonight is a bit of a throw back for me as I’m driving my oldest daughter to swim practice.  The last two years, when practices have switched from 4:00 PM to 6:45 PM, my job was driver.  I got to hang out with my daughter, get some work done, and just change the pace of my life, if only for a moment. Plus, my daughter could ride, do homework, or just relax a little bit after a day starting at 6:30 AM and ending at 9:15 PM.

This year, she’s a senior and has two other girls riding with her to practice, so Dad has been left along the wayside, and it’s made me a bit sad.  So, (to humor me I’m pretty sure) she allowed me to drive her here.  She picked me up in town and we watched my youngest daughter run cross country, then headed over.  It’s been nice to just hang out with her, listen to her silliness and just enjoy the time we have left together before senioritis and college pull us apart.

As I’m sitting here in a coffee house (yes, one that is actually open later than 6:00 PM!), I’m just doing a little reflecting on this year so far.

  1. It’s been a year of “last times” with my daughter being a senior.  Lots of last times, and I’ve all ready told her I’m going to be a mess when it comes time to graduate.  She’s the one who balances our family and she will be dearly missed next fall.
  2. I have the best team to work with in the world, period.  Our sixth grade/eighth grade team works hard, very hard as we are each seeing 100+ kids per day, but I’ve missed these people a lot.  Two of the three I teach with now were in my hallway a number of years ago, and working with them again has been a very positive thing.
  3. I have SO MUCH to learn about 8th grade.  I’m not even sure I’ll be teaching 8th grade again, knowing the schedule and sections will change again next fall, but I’m keeping my nose above water.  Again, positive team for certain, but there’s a learning curve that just doesn’t seem to get any easier!
  4. And while we are talking about learning, I’ve got so much to learn about standards based grading.  My wife and I got into a pretty good tussle about the grading with our daughters in the high school, and in the end, I had to thank her because she’s forcing me to think about what answers I’ll give parents later on.  Some of this stuff, I simply don’t know, period.  I’m not sure how to answer some of the questions, and tomorrow, we’ll have a little bit of time as a team to talk through some of our issues.
  5. I miss my elementary block schedule.  If I needed 10 minutes extra, I had play in my schedule to get 10 extra minutes.  Now, if I took 10 extra minutes, kids would be rioting outside my door and teachers would be calling my room! 🙂  And not that it’s a bad thing, but it’s just been a huge adjustment for me, working into a schedule by hours and not by subject matter.
  6. I have to learn how to turn my brain off.  I’m up early three days a week driving my youngest daughter to danceline practice ( a WHOLE different blog in itself), but I’ve had major problems being able to shut my brain down at night, thus not getting enough sleep.  There are so many things I know I’m not doing well or have yet to accomplish in the classroom that I wake up and can’t get back to sleep.  I find a tiny bit of comfort that my team is suffering along with me, but we can’t be functioning at our peak when we aren’t getting quality sleep.  Exercise would be a great thing, but find time for that doesn’t seem to work well right now!

So there we are.  I’ll leave on a super major positive.  We’ve struggled this year as parents and a family with the attitudes and actions of both daughters.  They are stretched thin with their own activities and cope as well as they can, which sometimes means not very well.  We received possibly the best email in the world from our band instructor last night, complimenting both of our daughters on how they are leaders in the band and how they are giving back to the band, as servant leaders.

Wow.

I just was stunned to receive this and my wife has teared up a couple of times after reading through it.  My daughters were embarrassed as we read this to them last night, but if my kids are half of what was in that email, it makes so much of the pain and suffering that we do worthwhile.

Sometimes, even the strongest people need a place to sit and let down.  That email gave us that reprieve and we are thankful for it.