One good day is all we need. It drives us; it feeds us. But what about those other days? The ones when you wish you never left your bed. The ones when you find yourself in pajamas at 5 o'clock. The ones you replay through your head and wish you could do over. The ones that make you cry. It honestly never occurred to us to use this blog to write about those.
We're very lucky Crazy Reading Ladies. We've had far more stellar days together, celebrating kids and books and authors, than most anyone. We have the best jobs on the planet; we have each other. Not a month goes by that we don't stop and say, "How did this happen?" We are optimistic people who spend an incredible amount of time celebrating good.
We're not perfect. We know that, but we need to be honest: it ain't all sunshine and lollipops. Some days we know we could be better.
It's the curse of parents and educators everywhere; the pressure that comes from being called a "life-changer" can be crippling. The truth is, some days aren't our best days. Some days we don't work miracles. Some days we make mistakes but that "life-changer" thing makes us dwell on the fact that it wasn't perfect, instead of just brushing it off as one of those days.
Well, we have a story about one of those days.
Last Friday we held our first All In! team activity in over two years. We were stoked. This was our biggest year to date and the book - Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - has carved out its place in our collective heart; it's safe to say it's our favorite. This year had already exceeded our expectations in so many ways and Friday's event was going to be the cherry on top of the sundae. We had talked about our plans for months - we ordered supplies back in February and strung rare and precious minutes together to craft every detail. It felt good. We hadn't brainstormed and laughed like that in a while. We remembered those whole-group activities from years ago. We were both excitedly anticipating that feeling once again. It didn't come.
When Friday came, we found ourselves trapped in a meeting as "Go Time" approached. By the time we finally arrived, the kids were loud; they were excited, but they were loud, and it took way too long to give directions. It took too long, period - the activity we planned would take five-to-seven minutes ended up taking more than half an hour. Kids got antsy. Kids asked to go to the bathroom and were found by the Principal wandering the halls. Some kiddos that remained in the gym walked away from their groups, uncomfortable with the social aspect and unsure how to take part in a collaborative effort. This was a first, and we didn't like how it felt.
But the truth is that we tried. We thought on our feet and changed the game - omitting one piece entirely and changing the objective of another. We tried. We planned well, but it wasn't good enough. We knew right away why it flopped - everyone wasn't engaged at the same time. It's an easy fix, really. We should just chalk it up to a lesson learned: some days our best isn't good enough.
But first we have to move on. We have to realize that some days are better than others, and recognize that all days deliver some modicum of good.
It's not easy. Just like our students, we have a tendency to catastrophize: did this ruin them for life? Will they come back? What if we lost them for next year? We admit we allowed those thoughts to swim through our head - we even verbalized them - until we saw the pictures.
Sometimes we must take a less-than-stellar afternoon and do what we ask our students to do: look at what we did right. We pulled off an after-school activity on Friday of a long weekend with an eclectic mix of kids. A few hundred kids. We said we would do it and we did it. We had colleagues show up to help. We planned from our hearts. We put in time and effort and energy. We didn't do it half-way, it just wasn't what we thought it would be. And that's okay. Some days are like that.
Some days you hear kids shouting numbers in Lithuanian to welcome their teammates.
Some days you see 7th-grade boys laughing hysterically as they scoop colorful plastic spheres into laundry baskets.
Some days you hear kids quoting a book they read four months earlier.
Some days you look up and see your best friend in a matching t-shirt.
Some days that's all you need.