In addition to learning how to say no and learning how to stop apologizing for things that aren’t my responsibility, I realized this week that I am in the midst of learning how to ask for help. I’m not talking about asking for help doing things I don’t know how to do. I learned that long ago when I moved to a foreign country where I knew zero people.
I am a “trust the professionals” type through and through. If I can learn how to do it on YouTube or just pay someone else who already knows how to do it, I choose the latter every time. I’m great at asking for help with my plumbing or electricity. I’m even pretty decent at asking for help to clean the house. It’s not that I can’t clean the house, it’s just that Tati and Candida do a much better job.
Sidebar. I’m beta reading a novel that Faith Beauchemin wrote (I also read her collection of essays on being Queer, which I would definitely recommend, especially if you are cis/straight, because we have to listen to each other) and it’s so good. I look forward to reading it every day and am super bummed when I’m too busy to get to it. Anyway, there are quite a few good quotes already and one that has really stuck with me was from the very first chapter. It said, and I don’t quote, because I’m not scrolling all the way back up and losing my place, “It’s never a bad idea to pay hard working people good money.”
I don’t make a ton of money, so I do love a bargain, but I have teeter-tottered between saving money and paying hard working people good money for YEARS now and that was the permission I needed to pay the guy who cuts my grass and the woman who cleans my house WELL because they are hard working and really nice people who are doing a job I can’t or do want to do and they deserve those pesos, darnit.
So anyway. I can ask for help like that around the house. But when it comes to my JOB which is my LIFE and my CAREER and my CLASSROOM, I do not need to ask for help, thank you very much, because I went to SCHOOL for this and I have a DEGREE and I have EXPERIENCE and I know what I’m doing and I’d love to help YOU if you need any help, but I have everything taken care of over here. First grade is aces. We’re good to go.
Except for that’s all baloney because no man or woman is an island and nobody can do anything all by themselves (with some obvious exceptions), especially not run a freaking classroom full of seventeen five- and six-year-olds.
This week one of my students was, instead of doing his math, stumbling around the classroom saying (in Spanish), “I’m so drunk. I’m so drunk!” I took him out into the hallway and was about to get into questions like, “Who have you seen drunk?” and “Is there someone in your house who is drunk a lot?” when I realized that the bell was going to ring in 2 minutes and we were going to have to go to lunch or art or somewhere and not only did I not have the physical, actual time to talk to this student about the (possible) drunkard in his life, but I also didn’t have the emotional energy. I just didn’t. So instead I just stood out in the hallway with him – well, I stood in the doorway to the classroom so I could keep an eye on the other hooligans – and maybe I put my hand on his shoulder and maybe not, but when the bell rang we just went back in and he cleaned up and we moved on with our day.
The thing is, we have a school counselor. And she is an EXPERIENCED Special Education teacher. (Can you tell that putting words in all caps for emphasis is my new thing?) So after sending my precious hooligans to lunch or art or whatever I sent an email to our lovely school counselor about sitting down with her and chatting about a couple of my students.
I know how to handle stinkers challenging authority for control. I know what to do with kids who think they are the boss and are pushing the boundaries to see how far they can go. Been there, done that, disciplined the kid. But I don’t have any of those kids this year. So I need help.
I sat down and talked with the school counselor and friends, I feel SO MUCH BETTER knowing that she is on my team. She DOES have the time to sit down and talk with the kids. That is literally her job. So she can find out if this student just saw something about being drunk on TV once and really fixated on it and it’s really no big deal, nothing to worry about, or if we need to dig a little deeper. And then she’ll do the digging!
God is so good in that from the very beginning He set up structure and leadership among His people. He knows that this is what we need. That we cannot live all alone in our lives doing our thing all by ourselves, but that also we need structure and clear direction. He knew that we needed specialties and people who know a lot about one thing so that when we’re struggling with that one thing we know exactly where to go. It’s been that way since the beginning of time! When God needed a new temple, He called on the skilled craftsmen, which means there were skilled craftsmen to call on. Anyway. You get my point.
I have a tendency to hold on very tightly to things that are my responsibility. And my classroom is my responsibility, so I should hold on to it, and I should own being the boss of it. But if I’m holding on too tightly I’m suffocating not only myself, but also my students. If I’m holding on too tightly, I’m not allowing us to live our best, more freeing, widest, most lovely lives because I am limiting us to only what I have to offer. Which is a lot, but not as much as what WE have to offer. You know what I’m saying?
The smart and loving and very best thing we can do for ourselves and our people is to ask for help when we need it. Nobody ever benefited from struggling along trying to do things that they don’t know how to do without first learning how to do them or asking for assistance. If you don’t know what you need help with or what kind of help you need, start by trying to figure that out. If there’s no one in your life that you feel comfortable asking for help, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m a decent listener and an excellent telling-people-what-to-do-er. I love you and we need you. So take care of yourself.