A 30 Year Old’s Guide to High School

img_2462High School is not easy. Hormones, homework, and trying not to forget your gym strip… and it is not any easier for the students.

I should explain; I am an Education Assistant at a High School, which means I spend my day supporting students in their classes. I balance a fine line between being the “other” teacher in the class, and engaging enthusiastically in lessons to demonstrate the behaviour of the quintessential student.

Somedays I feel like I am participating in a strange social experiment to test how much I have grown up since High School.

This is my fourth year working at the school, and I have learned some things will never change:

  • I am just as uncoordinated in P.E. as I was at 16.
  • Math still makes me want to cry.
  • I still consider it a compliment if one of the “cool kids” likes my outfit.
  • I am still too social for my own good.
  • Even when attempting to show restraint, I cannot help but squeal with delight when I hear the words, “school dance,” “Christmas Break,” “Summer Vacation,” and “School Spirit Week.”
  • Even when attempting to show restraint, I cannot help but groan in true agony when I hear the words, “provincial exam,” “pop quiz,” and, “dodge ball.”*

*I am almost certain that dodgeball was invented by a sadistic substitute P.E. teacher who thought to himself, “I am not allowed to hit the kids, but what if I created a game where I got to sit back and watch as they hit each other… as hard as they can… in the face… with a big rubber ball?”*

Do not get me wrong; I have grown and matured since my years as a High School student:

  • I own a car which means I no longer have to tolerate my former companions on public transit.
  • I almost never forget my lunch.
  • Even though I am still as uncoordinated in P.E. as I was as a teenager, I have now perfected my P.E. excuses. For example:
    • “Oh no, the student over there seems to be in distress! I should put down my ball hockey stick and rush to their aid!”
    • “I think it’s best I just line up the balls for dodge ball and then quickly get out of the way. I would hate for one team to have the unfair advantage of having a teacher on their side.”
    • “I can’t run today because it’s my time of the…” Okay, some excuses have remained the same.
  • I truly enjoy learning! Especially when it is just for the joy of learning something new, and there are no homework assignments required of me.

I have also discovered teenagers are truly weird, wonderful, and hilarious creatures! They wear ridiculous clothing, come up with strange catch phrases that make no sense, and are fleshy little balls of emotions. They are brilliant beyond their years, incredibly talented, so funny I have cried with laughter in class more times than I can count, and are compassionate in sometimes unrecognizable ways (but it is there).

I loved my high school experience, so much so that on my last day of grade 12 I carried a video camera around with me and captured most of my day on film (I need to find that one of these days). Though my love for my high school ran deep as a teenager, I have learned a lot about myself now as an adult working in a high school.

I am reminded how easy it is to be judgemental of the next generation and how I should extend these kids the same grace I was afforded by certain adults in my life.

I give myself freedom to ask questions, admit I am wrong, and take joy in moments when I discover I was smarter than I thought I was.

I allow myself to break into song, tap dance through the hallways, and tell terribly punny jokes, because that is who I am, and whenever I am being the most “me,” I allow others the same liberty to be themselves.

I think that every adult should be required by law to return to high school for a month or two. It is a great reminder of how much you have grown, how much you have not changed at all, and what precious parts of yourself you have forgotten about that need to be resurrected.

 

The Miracle of Childbirth (And other things that scare the s*** out of me)

I do not know if I am ready to be a mother yet.

Which is fine, because I am not currently “with child.”

Due to my profession, I have spent a lot of time with kids, and not just a few kids, hundreds of kids; dare I say thousands!

I have learned a few things about children:

  1. I like kids. A lot of them are fairly cute, they say funny things, and they usually laugh at my jokes.
  2. Kids are little and easy to pick up, which makes me feel like a giant, and I enjoy feeling like a giant. It is the same reason I enjoy tiny utensils.
  3. They are really loud, but I am okay with loud volumes because it means I am not the loudest person in the room.
  4. When I am with children it is socially acceptable to colour, sing Disney songs, and announce when I have to leave the room to go potty.
  5. Kids are sticky… all the time. I don’t know why. What do these parents feed their children that makes them so damn sticky? And how do they manage to get said substance on their foreheads? I’m always a little hesitant to go near small children for this reason.
  6. Kids have no filter, and will ask you if you have a baby in your tummy with no shame. And the answer is no, no I don’t have a baby in my tummy, yes I did have a particularly large lunch today, and yes I will be throwing out this shirt.
  7. Kids are unpredictable. I am constantly hearing little stories from parents about the time their “precious little cherub” decided to paint their nursery with their own poop. Those same moms seem to love following those stories with, “So, how many kids do you think you’ll have?” To which I respond, “Siamese fighting fish.”
  8. Kids are expensive. They require extravagant themed birthday parties with three tiered cakes, adult friends who drink alcohol, and goody bags filled to the brim with organic, fair trade, gluten free gummy bears.
  9. Kids are ridiculous. No, you can’t jump on the trampoline during the snowstorm while eating Kraft dinner. Why? You want to know why? Because it’s ridiculous, and so are you.

I look forward to the day I have my own children, but I also have an irrational (albeit totally rational to me) fear of childbirth. I have spent far too much time with mothers who love to share their magical, miracle childbirth stories, which leave me dry heaving and hyperventilating into a paper bag.

Bloody Nipples, Tearing, and Developing Strong Feelings in Favor of Adoption

I do not know what’s better: knowing too much about childbirth, or knowing too little.

I’ll happily read books about child rearing, but I am not touching a birthing book until I absolutely have to. I figure that once I have children I won’t have time to read a lot of parenting books, because I’ll be too busy actually parenting. I feel like having some parenting techniques under my belt is wise, but having knowledge about bloody nursing nipples, and tearing is just fear mongering.

*Side bar: It’s kind of ridiculous to me that people have to take classes and read books before they are allowed to drive a car, but anyone, and I do mean anyone, can just have a baby. There should be a class or something every person has to take before they are allowed to pop out a kid. I don’t know who would be in charge of enforcing such things, but I’m pretty sure I’d rock at it.

I have always liked the idea of having kids; I have just never been fond of the idea of having kids (if you know what I mean). I fear pain, hate hospitals, and I have never envied the “pregnant lady glow.” I am not dumb; I know its just sweat from overexertion and sleep deprivation. More recently I have began to warm up to the idea, but mainly because of my own fondness for my husband and how adorable our Half-rican babies will be, not because I am any less frightened that these little miracles won’t (to quote The Mindy Project), “steal my youth and beauty and keep it for their own damn selves.”

Men in Labor and Other Unnatural Things

Have you seen those videos where men endure simulated labor pains in an effort to “understand” what a woman goes through during childbirth? It is both horrifying and fascinating. I do not feel like the men who partake in these experiments are doing it with pure motives though. They say it is in an effort to “understand” what women go through, but I feel like they secretly want to experience it to prove that it is “no big deal.” They walk in all confident saying crap like, “Start me on the highest level, I can handle it,” as if they’re about to play a video game. Whether you have seen it or not, I probably do not have to tell you how things went. The men cry, moan, scream, and convulse… During the first five minutes.

There is something disheartening about watching six-foot-tall, 200lb men quivering in pain from simulated labor pains… and they don’t even need to push anything out!

Sitting on a Throne of Lies

My solution? I have decided to lie to myself, and surround myself with equally convincing liars. I want to hear from the mothers who sneezed, and whoop there’s a baby! The mothers that got to the hospital and hardly had time to get the maternity band off of their pants before they welcomed their darling munchkin into the world… those are the stories I want! If you were in labor for 72 hours, and can no longer laugh or sneeze without peeing your pants, talk to another newly married woman, because I am not your girl.

 

 

How To Forget Where You Live

Hi.

My name is Ashley,

And I’m a stalker.

*Insert many other voices greeting me in unison*

Don’t worry; there is not some poor schmuck somewhere whose unrequited love has driven me into hysteria. No, the object of my stalking is actually a house, to be more specific, the house I grew up in.

My family moved into our house when I was about three years old, and we didn’t move again until I was ten. Almost every fond childhood memory I have took place in or around that house. I learned how to swing on the swing set in the backyard. I fell in love with the boy across the street. I had Christmas’, birthdays, and Easter egg hunts in that house. I did homework, playtime, family dinners, and jumping on the bed in that house. I loved that house. I don’t think we would have ever moved out if it hadn’t have been for my parents divorce, but that is neither here nor there. We moved and since then I have moved over 15 times.

So yes, on lonely days, lost days, cold days, or if I just happen to be in the neighborhood, I stalk my old house.

I say stalk because I always feel supremely creepy when I’m doing it. I don’t peek in the windows or sneak around the side or anything, I just drive by… really slowly. Like, imagine slow, and then go slower, that is how slowly I drive by the house. I do not mean to make it look as creepy as I imagine it looking, I just get lost in thought and can’t help but linger.

I envision what my adolescence would have looked like in my house. I scoff at how poorly the new owners have kept up the lawn, and can almost hear my father’s voice saying, “All the time I put in, and look at what a mess they’ve made.” My eyes drift across the street, and I think about the little boy I loved for so many years. I think of my summers with him jumping through sprinklers, and eating watermelon popsicles. I see the shed in the backyard I was convinced had monsters in it for an embarrassingly long time. I smell my mom’s cooking and remember her as did when I was little. I even drive down the back alley to peak at where my tree house use to stand, and am still flabbergasted as to why anyone would want to tear down such a magnificent structure. I see my mom and dad sitting on the patio on a sunny morning, my mom with a book, and my dad with his smokes.

And for just a moment, I feel like I am home. Then I drive back to real life.

In Between Addresses

“What do you mean you don’t know your address?” says a judgmental sounding voice on the other side of the phone from a bridge toll company that shall remain nameless.

“Well, I just moved, so I don’t know my new address.”

“Well, what was your last address?”

“I don’t think I ever got around to giving you my last address, so I think what you’re actually looking for is the address before last.”

“Fine, give me that address.”

“Yeah, I can’t remember that one.”

“Well isn’t that the address on your drivers license?”

“No, no, my drivers license has the address from before that on it. Do you want that one?”

*Insert stunned, frustrated silence*

This conversation and others like it are the reasons why, “Can I have your address?” has become a remarkably challenging question for me. Every short-term address I hand out is just another piece of mail I’ll have to redirect later, and it’s strangely exhausting. It makes me feel like I’m floating in between where I am, and some mysterious place I will be 6 to 12 months from now. With every piece of mail that gets lost in between addresses, it just reminds me that I’m wandering, and suddenly I become terribly unsettled.

Hopeless Wanderer

“I will learn to love the skies I’m under.”- Mumford and Sons

Life has changed a lot for me over the past few years. I have lived on another continent, I have adjusted back, I have gotten engaged, I have gotten married, I have been fired, I have been hired, I have lost old friends, gained new friends and, of course, I have moved.

With all of the changes, my biggest struggle has been to refrain from stalking my past. It is so easy to look back on what could have been, how I would have hoped to be treated by people, how I would have liked to end or start something, or the homes I wish I hadn’t moved out of, but there’s no use in dwelling on my shoulda, coulda, wouldas’. I can do a drive-by every now and again, but at the end of the day, it is just a waste of time and gas.

Instead I just need to learn to love the skies I’m under. Thank God for the lovely things I’ve had, the ridiculous crap I’ve endured, and the feet He has allowed me to keep wandering with.

A Prayer for the Hopeless Wanderers

I pray not that you stop moving, but that the Lord gives you sturdy shoes to travel in.

I know that when it rains, it pours, so I pray for umbrellas, rubber boots, and an internal knowing of how to clean up after a flood.

I pray that the Lord accompanies you on all your journeys, so that no matter how far away you go (and even if you’ve forgotten the address that gets you there), you always feel at home.