Warming Up

I’m huddled up at my desk attempting to warm up after about 30 minutes of cleaning off the cars. My son and I have two hour delays this morning, but my husband had to leave early to catch the bus.

So it’s still “early” on my time schedule – I would be just waking up normally in about 10 two-hour-delay-adjusted minutes. I’m taking advantage of those few minutes to write here, enjoy my coffee and breakfast.

I keep thinking about the idea of warming up.

Warming up from the cold.

Warming up to become spring.

Warming up to new ideas.

Warming up to prepare ourselves for exercising our bodies or brains.

The first two are about waiting right now, but the last two are about attitude.

I took a break from the routine with my students last week when I heard a multitude of grumbling. It is That Time of Year. I don’t know that it’s entirely the weather that does this, but I do know that this isn’t specific to my students in my school district. A kind of black cloud overshadows them and everything is negative and nothing is right in the world.

I couldn’t just stand by and not say anything at all.

The short version below is what I posted to Facebook about what I said to them:

There are a lot of great chances to learn and grow around you – from pretty much everyone you meet. But when you approach the world around you as “boring” and “stupid” because it hasn’t catered to your interests, you miss out on fantastic opportunities because you’ve tuned them out. And, worse than that, you may actually dull someone’s enthusiasm to the point that they just are no longer interested themselves. This, I told them, is really just sucking the joy out of others’ lives.

You don’t have to agree with everyone. You might not find everything you’re exposed to interesting. But, please, sure as anything, don’t be responsible for killing someone’s love of learning.

I reminded them to put something positive and constructive into the world – to find solutions to problems, not to complain; to encourage and build up rather than to crush the desire to learn and do better; to put good into the world instead of suck the joy right out of it.

I’m not sure if any of my words hit the mark, but remember that so much of what we get out of life is what we bring to it.

May we all be blessed with the appropriate attitudes as we go into our days.

While I was outside cleaning off the cars with nothing but the tinkling sound of falling broken ice hitting the ground to break up my thoughts, my brain went back to a conversation I’d had with my son in the car recently.

“Hey, Mom! Did you know that [insert Pokemon name] is able to do [insert fantastical Pokemon skill] when it evolves into [insert evolved Pokemon’s name]?!”

I was trying to drive in ickier weather than expected after musical practice to a restaurant for a fundraiser for a student’s family. I was tired and hungry and my brain was racing with a thousand things that needed to get done that night while Jason was gone for a meeting, not to get home until after both my and B’s bedtimes.

“What?” I asked, “I can’t hear you.”

He repeated what he had to say with equal enthusiasm just a little bit louder, but none of it made any sense to me and I couldn’t focus enough to even pick out anything more than it being about Pokemon.

“B, can you seriously just pause on the Pokemon conversation right now? I have to really pay attention to my driving right now.”

He looked disappointed as I glanced in my rearview mirror, but he nodded.

I was just as distracted when we got home though.

And I gave him the speech that I wasn’t really interested in Pokemon as much as he was, but that I was glad that he liked it.

Hearing that replay in my mind after the speech I gave my kids last week felt a little bit…wrong.

This seems to be the week for pointing out my shortcomings.

I may have jabbed at the ice on the car just a little harder with that in my mind.

I get lost in the details and forget to appreciate the enthusiasm of another human being sometimes — when my son’s going on and on about Pokemon or Minecraft or Tesla; when my dad is rattling on about some complicated math or philosophy book he’s reading; when my husband is attempting to explain the latest challenge that has been dropped in his lap; when my mother is catching me up on the lives of a multitude of people I don’t know.

I can appreciate the enthusiasm of my students for a thousand different things, but by the time I come home, I don’t know that I give the same appreciation to my family.

I’m. Just. As. Guilty.

It’s good some days that Mother Nature forces us to be alone in the quiet with our thoughts.

It’s good some days that I’m strongly encouraged to write my thinking down.

It’s good to know that even though it may take many more days before it warms up outside, I always have the chance to warm up inside to prepare my attitude for the day to come, for the ideas I’ll encounter, for blessings I have.


18 thoughts on “Warming Up

  1. Why is it so hard to bring the enthusiasm to our personal lives? I am speaking as someone who 100% understands what you mean. Time for a bit more mindfulness I guess!

    • I think it depends on what they are enthusiastic about…if the kid wants to read or go to the library or work on something else we usually enjoy together, I’m far more attentive. I just don’t necessarily have the energy to conjure up the enthusiasm I should for the things I don’t necessarily share an appreciation for.

  2. We all have those moments where a black cloud seems to hang over our enthusiasm. When students comment “this is boring” or “why do I have to….” it can suck the life out of an building energy in the room. I love what you shared with your students. We have PARCC this week, and all that assessing can suck the life out of the magic we know can be found in engaged learning. I’m going to do my best to “warm up” the room. Thanks for sharing. Spring will be here soon. :-)

    • Interestingly enough, the fussing wasn’t over what we were doing in my room. It was just an all-around grumbling about classes in general — and about our enrichment classes in specific. They seemed to have a feeling that if it wasn’t something they were interested in and it wasn’t graded that it wasn’t worth their time and energy. *sigh*
      Best of luck with warming up your kiddos after their assessments. They really do suck the life out of kids…

  3. There is so much in here for me to respond to. I love the concept of warming up. I need to work on giving myself warm up time so I don’t feel a constant state of hyped up action. I do NOT understand Pokemon. If I hear about the damage one can do one more time…And why do they always have to tell me things loudly over and over when the driving is precarious. Loved reading this!

    • Ahhhh…a kindred soul. I did have a better appreciation for it when we went to see Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions (orchestra concert with accompanying video from the games over the years — very cool). I got some perspective on the game and sort of left understanding and appreciating it a bit more. But it’s still hard to be excited about something – anything really – when you’re exhausted. I am looking forward to being a bit less overwhelmed next week.

  4. We all need to hold ourselves accountable from time to time, and you’re right that unexpected quiet allows is to do just that. We’re all guilty of committing that sin. Trying to rectify it is the next step.

    • So true. It also means remembering that we’re human and prone to slipping up despite the best of our intentions. I’m not hoping for more snow, but I do appreciate the time to think.

  5. Cindy…
    I’m glad you’re slicing this month. I love your voice in your writing, and as parents of kids who are passionate about LOTS of things, I can relate to your Pokemon story. I’m the same way with Minecraft and My Little Pony. Your post today is a reminder to me that I need to slow down and listen to my girls more – to learn about the things they love that are not shared interested. It’s a reminder, too, about the importance of choosing a positive view of what’s happening around me instead of a negative one.
    Hope your day warms up. Spring WILL come!

  6. “But, please, sure as anything, don’t be responsible for killing someone’s love of learning.”
    Printing this out and putting it up in my classroom – some administrators could use this reminder, too.

  7. Important lessons for us all. For me, this was always a difficult time of year because my mind was always on the weather. Will it snow or won’t it? Will there be a delay or not? Must I get up earlier to shovel and clean off the cars? i admit, unfortunately, that I was not always the best listener during this time of the year.

  8. I loved this whole post, but the last line captures the best part. I always have the chance to warm up inside to prepare my attitude for the day to come ~ lesson of the day for me!

  9. Oh, I’ve been there!!! I, too, feel like sometimes I use the best of myself up during the work day and have little to bring home. But you are an amazing mom in so many ways!! If we teach our children empathy, then hopefully our shining moments will help dull the sharpness of those moments where we fall a bit short of perfection. Thanks for sharing you thoughts, friend!

    • Thank you, Teresa! I hope you’re right. I’m looking forward to having some more free time as of next week. My first project is to curl up with the boy and read through the next Imaginary Veterinary book with him. We’re overdue for some reading time together.

  10. I needed to read this today. We are entering the third, I think, week of cold and snow without a break, really unusual for Colorado where a few days of snow is usually followed by warming and blue sky, and getting ready for PARCC testing and I dropped my laptop yesterday. Feeling like I need a major attitude adjustment. Thank you for this important reminder!

    • May we all get warmer weather. I woke up to see that we have snow and ice in the forecast for today and tomorrow. My attitude is where it needs to be this morning, but I sure am praying that the weather people are wrong about these storms!

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