“Hope is a good thing – maybe the best thing, and no good thing ever dies.”
- Stephen King
Since I returned from the conference late Sunday afternoon, I feel like I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath. While the kids did their chores and the house was in decent shape, food was in short supply and I had to catch up on laundry. It’s amazing how many clothes can accumulate in the basket since I “caught up” on laundry that Friday.
I had much writing-related work on my plate and wanted to contact all of the people I met at the conference. Unlike previous years, this time I was better about talking to people and handing out business cards. When I saw another person jot a note on mine, I realized how important it was to take my own notes before some of the people became scrambled in my head. Second on the agenda was to write a post because I’m used to writing nearly every day. And in the back of my mind was the request I had to write a post for the Guide to Literary Agents blog.
The sub-line was merciless, not caring how busy I had been or about my lack of sleep or the inspiration I’d received compelling me to write. The second blog post I ever wrote* was about dressing for work. For the past several weeks, I’d given up putting out a casual outfit in case I didn’t receive a call, figuring I wouldn’t have another day off until the end of the year. But Monday morning, I received a call from a NEW GATEKEEPER, who sent me to a GYM job. Gym clothes required.
The job was for the teacher who has the dirtiest, messiest supply room I’ve ever seen. There were no plans left. I took the 5th/6th-graders out to shoot hoops on the lovely day. Then I had a kindergarten and two 1st/2nd-grades, which I kept inside with stations (bouncers, hula-hoops, jump ropes, soft Frisbees, and soft balls). It went well except for the popularity of the hoppers. There are never enough hoppers. The only down side was one first-grader who lost her mind and beat me up at the end of the class. Luckily, she was the size of a preschooler so I didn’t get hurt. Not that she didn’t try.
A woman who shadowed another student said she was so impressed with me the time I’d subbed for music that she’d told the office. It hadn’t led to jobs there, but still. A boy in that class had a broken leg, so I set up ring toss for him. The problem was I had to retrieve the rings and watch the students. The principal came up to check on me in the midst of the chaos. So much for that recommendation.
Afterwards, I had 7th-graders for health, but with no plans, the principal didn’t expect me to teach it, and I gave the students free choice instead. Basically, they did the same things as the kindergarten and 1st/2nd graders + basketball and without all the injuries, pushing, and stealing one another’s balls. 3rd/4th-graders came in for the last class. I took them outside to play soccer, basketball, and jump rope.
After teaching gym, getting beaten up (sort of), and writing a post, I was tired. It didn’t stop the gatekeeper calling me on Tuesday morning, with a confusing assignment. I was to teach English and fifth-grade. When I realized it was for the Spanish school, it made sense. I’d be speaking in the English language to the fifth-grade students. They were a dream, with only minor chatting and slacking.
One girl thought I was twenty-years-old, but she also thought Eleanor Roosevelt was married to Theodore Roosevelt, so her judgment was a little off. At some point I gave them ten seconds to clean off their desks, counting in Spanish. One boy responded, “Today’s not a Spanish day. It’s an English day.”
During my breaks and quiet work time, I wrote a post for my blog and one for Writer’s Digest. But I waited to edit the post over until after school. Even though I e-mailed it to Chuck Sambuchino in the evening, he responded quickly, asking for a picture and bio.
The next morning, I received an e-mail from Olive to write a post. Soon after, my phone rang in another GYM job at the place I’d taught middle school Spanish a month ago. Fifth-graders played mat ball (kick ball with mats and a couple of other rules) and I co-taught, so it was easy. That teacher left for another school, so I was on my own for the rest of the day. Sixth-graders argued and trash talked a lot during mat ball. After that, I had third and fourth-graders. They were all sweet, and the day was easy. I set up stations. Boys wanted me to see them shoot hoops and girls wanted me to count jump rope rotations.
It helped by winning them over during warm-ups. I told them if they were good, I wouldn’t make them do that quick foot-moving defense move. I also reminded them it wasn’t the end of the world if we did the moves out of order. I am a seasoned gym sub (for no reason I can fathom) so I know what to say and how to behave. My authority is never in question.
The Writer’s Digest post showed up at some point that morning. Woo hoo! Feeling good, I went to the teacher’s room to microwave my lunch. There, a teacher party was in full swing with free food. Nobody looked at me, let alone offered me food. I heated up my fried rice and went back to the gym to work on my post for Olive.
My friend’s child was in one of the fourth-grade groups. He’s a nice boy who’s friends with my son and gave my daughter her first kiss. (Don’t ask.) When I saw him tossing a football by himself, I played with him for the next half-hour.
At the end of the day, he came to say goodbye. I offered him a ride home. On the way, he chatted about getting braces and kids at school.
When we reached his house, he said, “Thanks for the ride.”
“No problem. Anytime you see me subbing at the school, just come over at the end of the day and I’ll drive you home.”
“Just like when you subbed Spanish, I could’ve asked you for a ride?”
He paused. “You know, it’s a good thing you’re a sub.”
I don’t know about that.
* My second post: