Sunday, 24 June 2012

A letter to my "kids"

For my OLPH "kids"

It doesn't seem like that long ago that I got my first teaching job - grade six French immersion. I was trained as a high school math teacher: quadratic equations or bust! I was not really trained to be a sixth grade teacher, I was sort of trained to teach French immersion, and I couldn't paper a bulletin board to save my life.  But a job was a job, and I took it.

The first day that I walked into the classroom and stared at all of your eager faces, I was terrified.  These happy, smiling kids were all looking at me like I not only had a clue, but that I had THE clue, the answer to every question, the solution to every problem.  I knew nothing.  And you looked up to me, assuming that because I was your teacher, that I knew everything and that everything was completely under control.

Here is the truth: I faked it.  I faked being in control and knowing everything, because the truth was, I had a LOT to learn. Sure, I knew how to do advanced calculus (which, sadly, you don't teach to sixth graders) and prove mathematical theorems (also not in the sixth grade curriculum), but I did not know if I could do you justice as an educator.

Day after day, you pulled up a chair to my desk and had lunch with me, spouting all of your (and your friends') secrets and stories, jokes and dreams while I listened.  I smiled, I laughed, I convinced a few of you to try tofu, and I loved every minute.  I loved your stories, and for some reason, you thought I was amusing to listen to, and you seemed to actually want my company.  There was more to the relationship dynamic than just a teacher who teaches and students who learn.  Lightening struck my heart.

From there, I started thinking about you all the time.  You were not just students, you were my kids.  I wanted you to be happy, I wanted to protect you from unnecessary distresses, I wanted you to succeed, and I wanted you to know that you were important, not just to me, but to the world.  I never really knew whether or not I achieved that, and I just hoped that no matter what curricula I taught, that each one of you would come to learn that you MATTERED.

This weekend, I went back. You are now graduating from high school, standing on the edge of greatness.  I had kept in touch with a few of you kids, and so I managed to get a ticket to your graduation banquet.  I was excited to see my kids again, probably for the last time all in the same place.  And I was not expecting the reception that I got.

Only two students knew that I would be there (of the 50 or so that I had taught).  I heard shouts from across the room as a girl threw her arms around me, exclaiming "Madame!  I am so glad you're here!" (When did she get so pretty?) One young man wrapped his arms tightly around me before deciding to see if he was finally taller than me (he took off his hat, I took off my shoes: turns out he is now a couple of inches taller).  One beautiful young lady looked at me and asked in earnest "Is it hard?" about going to the french campus at the university. (She'll be an excellent teacher.)  A boy (well, a man now) towered over me, giving me such a firm and loving hug that I thought I would fall over.  (When did he get so tall? And when did he grow facial hair??) One after another, I was wrapped in warmth and love from kids that spent 10 months of their pre-teen lives with me six years ago. 

Not only that, but your parents were very enthused to see me, telling me how much it meant to them that I came and how much I meant to their child.  One mother told me that when she asked her daughter which of her teachers meant the most to her (of all her school years) she said she didn't even hesitate: it was Mme N.  Another mother told me that I was the first teacher to really see in her son what other teachers couldn't (or wouldn't take the time for).  A different parent told me that I had such a lasting influence on the kids, and that the fact that I was a first year teacher made it all the more amazing.

My kids are now adults.  You are future nurses, doctors, teachers, 3D animators, musicians, composers, performers, electricians, broadcasters, zoologists.  You are future mothers and fathers.  You will have to make difficult decisions, you will have failures, you will be successful.  But you will always be my kids.  And of all the lessons I wish you could remember from that lightening storm six years ago, it is this: you mattered.  You mattered to me, and you showed me this weekend just how much I mattered to you.

And you always will matter to me.  That's just the way it is.

Much love and pride for ALL of you, my OLPH kids.


Mme N.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Sweat-induced hallucinations

It's been about two weeks since I wrote about Insanity.  Today is Day 20.
Some things I have discovered in the past 20 days (and 20 workouts):
  1. Covergirl waterproof mascara is not sweatproof.  It runs like watercolour paint all over your face and into your eyes...and it burns. ACK!  It BURNS!  AAAHHH! Get it off!  Get it off!  Oh. Wait.  That's not the mascara that burns.  It's my sweat.  What the heck is sweat made out of?
  2. Sweat, as it turns out, has small amounts of ammonia in it.  It all makes sense now...
  3. Plyometrics is just fancy talk for a lot of bouncing around and sweat-flinging, the way a dog shakes itself dry.  Except I'm not trying to shake the sweat off.  It just flies off of its own free will.  As long as it's not in my eyes, it's all good.
  4. Except when it pools on the floor and then when I am plyometricking around my shoe actually slips in it.  
  5. Plyometricking does amazing stuff for your legs and butt.  My legs have not been this strong since I used to be a dancer.
  6. I was a Ukrainian dancer, not a female form of Magic Mike.
  7. I am pretty sure I could crack a nut between my thighs.
  8. Ack. Change nut to walnut.  That doesn't sound so dirty.  I did mention that I was NOT an exotic dancer, right?
  9. After I crack that walnut, I could put it in a bowl and rest that bowl on my muscular shelf of a bum.
  10. The last time I rested a bowl on any part of my body was when I rested a two-piece chicken meal from KFC on my enormous pregnant tummy the day before I went into labour with Sashimi.  And popcorn chicken.  And coleslaw.  And a tub of gravy.  Mmm...gravy...
  11. Where was I? Oh yeah, Insanity.  While the workouts are still crazy hard, my muscles are not sore anymore.  
  12. My muscles are getting larger, though.  My quads are definitely bigger, but in a nice way.
  13. Big enough that I have gained about 3 lbs, but not lost any inches.  Well, I have lost a couple, but I am not saying where.  It will only make Tony mad.  BUT one of the best and most unexpected things that has happened is...*drumroll*
  14. My evening blood pressure, which has been an issue ever since I was pregnant with iBean, has gone into the normal range!  I guess working out IS good for blood pressure.  Darn self-righteous pamphlet and its being right in its righteousness...

Friday, 1 June 2012

Snippets of Insanity

So I started doing Insanity.  The Insanity workout.  Why I thought that would be a good idea, I'm not sure.  I started drafting a post about the workout, what I thought of it, pros and cons, but I thought to myself: that's not my style.  Being rational and serious?  There is NO ROOM for that on this blog.

So instead, here are some tidbits of my first week of the Insanity workout.

Day 1: The Fit Test.
Before: Hmm.  It's called Fit TEST.  It must be some way to determine if I am too in shape and hawt for Insanity.  This should be easy.  I gave birth three times, I run up and down my stairs a billion times a day.  Easy peasy.
During: Oh for the love of all that is holy and good!  What the hell was I thinking?  When did I get so out of shape? WHAT?  SUICIDE DRILLS?  I don't know what those are, but I don't think...OH MY GOSH, I'M GOING TO HURL.  Wait, did I just pee myself?  What?  That's a puddle of SWEAT?  Insane.  Ah.  There it is.  That's why it's called Insanity.  Well played, Shaun T.
Conclusion: I am not fit. Damn.  Hey, what's this HipHop Abs preview?  Dancing all cool-style AND getting awesome abs? That's definitely more my style. I totally took a Hip Hop class while I was pregnant. Easy peasy. But...I don't want to spend any money.  Bah.

Day 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit
Before: Ok.  It can't be as bad as yesterday.  That was a test.  I failed, but now I am here to learn.
During: My glasses are slipping off my much sweat.  This is just the WARM UP?  What kind of sick joke is this?  Basketball drills?  I can't play basketball, what do I care?  SUICIDE JUMPS?!  AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!
Keesadilla looks at me and says: Mommy, are you tired?  I don't think that's a good idea to do that.
After: Huddled on the floor in fetal position for about 15 minutes.  Then I use the banister to pull my formless body up the stairs, then collapse onto my bed.

Day 3: Cardio Power and Resistance
Before: Ok.  My legs are going to fall off.  If my legs worked that hard yesterday, today must be more upper body.  That's good.  I can do upper body.  I carry kids around all day.  My upper body is hard core.
During: Oh no.  I think I have to poop.  Should have went before.  No wait.  I think I have to pee.  Or vomit.  Balls. MORE LEGS!  My muscles are on FIRE! YES, SHAWN T!  I CAN FEEL THE BURN. 
Conclusion: Apprarently there is no alternating between upper and lower body.  It's just all bad.  And I don't have to poop.  My colon was just feeling the burn, too.

Day 4: Cardio Recovery
Before: Recover.  That sounds good.  Maybe we sip some tea and talk about  our feelings.
During: Stretchchchchchchchchchchh.  Oh that's nice.  Why am I sweating so much?  All I'm doing is stretching?  Maybe I am really out of shape.
After: I rocked those stretches.  Boo-ya. 

Day 5: Pure Cardio
Before: I have a good heart, I have good endurance.  This should be easy.
During: AAAAAAAAAH!  Oh God.  Save me!  No more drills with the word suicide in them!  I'm gonna hurl, I'm gonna hurl...BEEEEELLLLLCH.  That felt awful.  How can I do push ups when my hands are so sweaty they slip all over the floor? 
After: Tony looks at me and says: Whoa.  You're, like, so wet.  And red.  Are you ok?
Me: YES I'm ok.  Sheesh.
Obviously, I'm a bit sweaty.  But the people in the video look fine.  They look in shape and fit.  I am clearly as sweaty-fit looking as they are.
I look in the mirror.  Is it normal for your skin to be bright magenta?  Wow.  Oh well, it'll be better soon.
Twenty minutes later: Still magenta, hey.  Neat. Well, my orange glasses are definitely out for today.

Every part of my body hurts.  I have not had a decent poop in five days.  My boobs are probably a size smaller from all the sweating they've done.  I've gained two pounds.  Mostly muscle, I suspect.  Maybe some poop. 

My plan is to make it to 30 days. If I have not pooped by then, I'll definitely be done with Insanity, and possibly become closely acquainted with a new friend, Exlax.  If Mr. Colon is A-OK, I'll do the recovery week and keep going. No matter how much I work out, I know my breasts will never be just below my smile again.  So I will then buy myself a sweet custom-fit bathing suit, the cheaper alternative to having a post-baby post-breastfeeding boob lift. 

And then I will be able to say this was the dumbest/smartest thing I ever did.