Real Genius

I’m back teaching summer school

and my TA is a T.N.

Total. Nerd.

I don’t mean the cute Joseph Gordon-Levitt type. I  mean the kid who wears a shirt that has a periodic table with the quote “I wear this shirt periodically,” a joseph-gordon-levitt-02mouth full of braces, is as pale as he is skinny, and doesn’t know how to answer a simple question such as “Do you like working with kids,” but can go off on a tangent about the chemical composition of carbon dioxide in an alka-seltzer tab we’re using to make lava.       I am not even sure I know what that last sentence means.

He drives me crazy.

For 3rd and 4th period I teach a Chemistry in the Kitchen class to 1st and 2nd grade children. We basically put together  stuff that comes from the kitchen in hopes of the following:

1) An explosion.

2) An overflow of ingredients.

3) That it is something we can eat.

It’s a SUPER basic class, and because my specialty is reading and language arts I pride myself on having kept it simple for the last 4 years I’ve taught it. Now this kid shows up and does one or more of the following every day:

1) Corrects the terms I use like “pyramid” to “tetrahedron.”

2) Half cleans up when I ask him to clean up stuff. He only seems to focus on the immediate area around him, and not the entire classroom.

3) Spends 1-2 hours coming up with formulas for simple experiments I ask him to set up like making soda with a bit of baking soda, fruit punch powder, and water.

Let me touch on the last one and finally get to my point. Again this kid drives me crazy. He can be hardly helpful at times because he will sit at the back of the classroom writing out formulas or doodling pictures of the experiments he is supposed to actually ya know, be setting up in real life.

However, the day we were supposed to make the fruit punch soda I taught him something, and he taught me. After spending the first two hours of school writing out formulas and doing taste tests to see if there was a perfect scientific calculation formula thingy between the baking soda, water, and fruit punch he told me it was impossible to make the fizz without the drink tasting super bitter.

So asked him,

“Hey…did you just put the two into the water to taste? Like did you NOT calculate anything and just add in what you thought might work?”

“Um…huh? I tested a few samples from my calculations and-“

That’s a nope.

We went into the classroom. I put a teeny bit of baking soda, half a cup of water, and most of the fruit punch packet in the water. Voilà! Fizz, and a horrifyingly too-sweet drink any kid would love. He tasted it, paused, and replied “Uh ya that tastes pretty good.”

What did he learn? Sometimes its NOT about the perfect calculation for the perfect formula for the perfect result.

The real genius in life is understanding that sometimes the perfect result comes from an imperfect process.

Kinda like my life…

What did I learn? Patience. Although he drives me crazy this is a 14 year-old kid still figuring things out. Rather than forcing any ideas into his head I allow him the space to explore his position in our class in his own nerdy way. I also make sure to praise him highly in the occasional occasion his expertise come in handy.

I’m sure one day this kid will turn out to be just as cool as I am.  He will blossom into one of those confident nerds and meet someone who finds his interest in YouTubing Chemistry crash courses fascinating (this is a current hobby of his).

nerdblog2

and he’ll be just fine.

Maggie xo

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Saturday

My first thought when I woke up this morning was “I haven’t thought about anything to write for the Sunday blog post!” My brain has been a little mushed because this was my last week of work. No “See you in August,” or “Is this your last year?” This was it, and with that goodbyes were in order all week long. My mind has been consumed with memories over the last ten years with both my coworkers, and the students that have come through. I thought to myself to be kind, and if nothing came to me just skip this week and something epic will certainly come up for the following Sunday.

As I lay in bed-relieved from that thought, I finally gave myself a moment to really pause. I let it sink in that I was no longer an employee with a place that I linked a major part of my identity to. Reflecting on what exactly I would miss nothing momentous came to mind, but after a few minutes I realized why. I jumped out of bed straight to the computer, and wrote this in one sitting. It actually goes back to the very first post I made when I started this blog. Which I find compelling; because once again I have no idea what I am doing, but am continuing to move forward.

It was all the small things.

 It was the quick interactions and brief encounters. Like being able to run to my coworker’s house on break after one quick text because my pants had ripped in the back and I was unknowingly flashing our students. It was the five extra minutes another aide would give me to go down and grab a coffee in the staff room before they ran out. Being able to pee during lunch duty because another coworker was watching her students and would gladly keep an eye on mine. Given space first thing by the teacher to decompress because she knew I was going through a rough time, and crying every morning on the way to work.

It was the words of encouragement in passing from one of our speech pathologists when I was trying to lose a bunch of weight. The students who screamed, “HI MS. M!!!” waving in excitement from afar. The teacher who offered to let me lead her class in a lesson and she would watch my student because she knew I needed a break. The parent who replied “Ahhh of course, always helping others Ms. M,” when I told him I wanted to be a life coach.

Sometimes in life, all the small things add up to being one enormous, important, positive, and necessary big thing. It is the combination of being yourself, and going the extra something. Going the extra moment to compliment the cashier’s hairstyle when it’s all she has because she wears a uniform, the extra mile to drive your friend home who had one too many, extending a smile to a stranger in passing without expectation, or that oh so important extra minute of coverage for a coworker so they can pee.

I would like to leave you with this thought. As much as we might embrace the small things others do for us, and as much as we might do little things for the ones we love…what about you? What if you did small things for yourself? What if you looked in the mirror for a moment and smiled? Took a walk around the block because the sun was shining and you wanted to feel it on your face? Or took out a few minutes while the kids played to call a friend that always makes you laugh, and leaves you in a better mood?

What if everyday you did just one, small positive thing, for you?

Imagine what that might add up to.

I woke up this Saturday morning thinking I had nothing for Callavida this week, and while lying in bed I paused to tell myself that was okay. Look what came out of that one small, comforting thought.

smallthings

Magdelena xo

*Dedicated to my Foothill Family. All the small memories will keep our hearts connected.