I have a new mantra for when I wake up in the morning and am instantly grumpy about life. It sort of heIps. I came up with it myself:
I’m going to have FUN today.
If you’ve been feeling down on life or grumpy, you should try it.
But what is “fun”, anyway? Do grown-ups even know how to have fun? Let me rephrase that. Do grown-ups even know how to have fun without booze? Maybe I’m the one who doesn’t know how to have fun. Maybe I’m just a stick-in-the-mud and need to lighten up. I am pretty fun at times, don’t get me wrong. But I’m also a little moody.
Look around you. How many over-30 people do you see out there absolutely loving life? It seems sometimes like everyone’s slugging around, shoulders hunched, head down, just trying to get it over with. Whatever their it is.
Life throws responsibility at everyone at different times in their life.. somewhere along your way, you have to become the grown-up. It can happen slowly or suddenly. Maybe it’s heavy. Maybe someone you love very much dies and you’re thrust into a strange place of stepping up and being in charge. Maybe someone hurts you. Maybe as a young child, you were forced to see something no child should ever have to see and just like that, the magic of childhood is gone. Maybe it’s lighter- becoming the grown-up can happen when some pimple-faced kid calls you M’am at the grocery store, or when you get checked out at the gym by no one anymore. And don’t even get me started on metabolizing alcohol after age 30. That’s how I know I’m old..older.
I’m not a parent yet. But If you are, I give you the OK to laugh at my naivety in the following diatribe. I am however a teacher, so by default, 40 hours/week, I have to be the adult in the room. Truth? It can suck the last glimmer of fun out of everything, instantly.
In my teacher job, I have to be the responsible one, the safe one, the one who takes care of everyone. Every day, parents put their children in my care- I’m the person who has to make sure no one dies. Ok, it’s very unlikely that would happen in my school setting… because I can’t let that happen. I’m the grown-up.
As a teacher, I have to consciously and actively instill social-emotional awareness, appropriately advocate for the underdog, model compassion for the alpha dog, and support children in their negotiations- I have to try to relate to their 4-year-old issues, and for the record, child drama is hilarious.
I have to make sure the classroom is maintained. I have to be the Cap Cop for our markers. Do you know how hard it is for a child to put a cap back on a marker? Do you know how hard it is for me to understand how hard it is for a child to remember to put a cap on a marker?
I have to be concerned when someone is hurt, even if I talked to them seven times already about not wrestling on top of the block table because someone could get hurt.
I have to wipe noses.
I have to wipe butts.
I have to explain daily that band-aids are for open cuts and blood. Like real blood. Not that microscopic speck on your finger.
I have to give hugs and snuggle even when my body wants nothing more than to just have a little bit of personal space for more than 3 minutes at a time.
I have to explain why it’s necessary to change your pants after you’ve soiled them. As if it isn’t obvious.
I have to plan lessons.
I have to sing songs.
I have to be patient.
I have to be kind.
I have to make sure everyone’s learning. And I have to do this all with a face that says, this is my calling.
It sort of kills fun. Ok, and that’s my whiny rant. I’m done. And I know hard is hard. My hard isn’t harder than your hard (not taking credit for that – see reference source in uplifting TED talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSR4xuU07sc
While my job is kind of hard, doing all of this stuff isn’t that hard. It’s just, trying. Draining. Not always FUN. I mean, it’s not rocket science. I’m not saving the world. Or am I?
Wait a minute. I just had a thought. Maybe it’s not about having FUN. Maybe FUN isn’t something to capture and possess. How consumerist we can be, always coveting these intangibles… always trying to find them and keep them like little bugs trapped in our shitty kid bug jars. The bugs always die. Maybe we’re not meant to have fun, for as soon as you lock it up and isolate it, the essence of what made it so fun is lost.
Maybe we need to BE the fun. Find that kid in us.
Hmmm. Saving the world while being fun? Food for thought.
If anyone has any pointers on how to do this, let me know.
I think Dan Siegel may have some ideas:
In the mean time, I am going to BE FUN today.