a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Sunday, May 1, 2016


I am a language arts teacher.  I have been a language arts teacher for 16 years.  I teach language arts to 8th graders, sometimes 7th graders.

Next year I have been asked to teach a section of social studies.  To 6th graders. Ancient world history.  Did I mention I am a language arts teacher?

This fact makes me whiny.  My husband is a social studies teacher.  An excellent social studies teacher.  I do not do what he does. 

Did I mention the thought of teaching social studies—especially ancient world history and especially to 6th graders—makes me whiny?

This is definitely not my cause for celebration this week.  However, this week one of my 8th grade boys learned a lesson that shifted my perspective from whiny to open-minded.

Every year our 8th graders take a field trip to our regional vocational training center.  The center provides hands-on career-related classes for high school students in a variety of fields, from building trades and fire science to early childhood education and culinary arts. 

Students are invited, a few weeks ahead of time, to sign up for their top 6 choices.  Then, on the day of the trip, they are given a schedule to follow, and they visit 5 different classes for approximately 20 minutes each. 

This year, on the bus ride there, G started whining to me:

G: Mrs. Rush, I am signed up for cosmetology.  I don’t want to do cosmetology.

Me: Then why did you select it as one of your top 6?

G: T talked me into it.  He was signing up for it.  I didn’t really understand what it was.

Me: I explained each option AND gave you a list with descriptions.

G: I know. I was just supposed to be in it with T.

Me: (beginning to giggle) Now T is absent and you are stuck.  He got you good.

G: It’s not funny!  I don’t want to do cosmetology.

Me: It will be fun—an adventure.  You will end up enjoying it.  It will give you something to talk about.

I was certain G would not be miserable.  He was not the first boy to have ended up in a similar situation on this annual field trip.  I knew he would enjoy talking about it—maybe even exaggerating how miserable it was—on the bus ride home. 

However, I didn’t expect this:

G: Mrs. Rush! I learned to braid hair!  Watch this!

Me: I am impressed G!  You are a changed man!  What did you learn?

G: How to braid! 

Me:  Yes, clearly you learned to braid hair quite well, but what I meant was what did you learn about life from this experience?

G: I guess I shouldn’t jump to conclusions before I try something.

It turns out G is a wise young man.  His words made me think again about teaching social studies next year. 

Maybe, just maybe, by teaching social studies I will learn to braid.


  1. Beautifully crafted! This line: "I do not do what he does," stopped me in my tracks.

    And I'm totally jealous of that last line you wrote. Perfect.

    I have a feeling 6th grade ancient world history will be quite the adventure.

    Thanks for writing,

  2. Lovely life lesson. Thanks for sharing. I would have been whiny too. Change, and unexpected change at that, is difficult to wrap our heads around. I wish you the best and yes, maybe you will learn to braid. :)

  3. "From the mouths of babes", or maybe 8th graders, come words that make a difference. You've mentored them well, Christy, and I hope you enjoy this new experience, and learn to braid! Beautifully written, BTW!

  4. Although this is a situation that makes you whiny, you are blessed to have a mentor living in your house. So as you learn "to braid" you will not be floundering aimlessly through ancient history. What a challenge! I know you will rise to it and shine. :-)

  5. You are someone who can always do what you put your mind to. You are capable of anything, but most of all...you are a teacher. You are an inspiration. Regardless of what your teaching focus is, you will reach and inspire growth.

  6. I look forward to seeing what you will learn from our "greenest" students and how unique you will strive to make their social studies experience! I love the short, choppy sentences that turn your writer voice into your "I don't wanna" voice. As always, you find the right lens to see it through by turning the experience this way and that until you see the window to replace your stolen door. Masterful!