The Good Stretch

Have we talked about how I’m a little afraid of everything? I haven’t done that Pottermore test to find out my Patronus, but I suspect it would be a mouse. Or, at the very least, something small and sleepy and cautious. A mole, perhaps.

While Pippin’s been stretching this month to adjust to preschool away from Mama (i.e., HIS WORLD), I’ve been stretching to teach art at a local homeschool co-op. (We are taking this year to decide how we want to proceed, education-wise, which is why things are so bonkers around here.)

Because here is my dark not-so-secret: other people’s children make me nervous. (Even my own children make me nervous when they’re new and squishy.) I am afraid I’ll do the wrong thing, or that they can sense how awkward I feel. I’ve never wanted to handle classroom management, which is why I opted to be a librarian and not a school teacher. Also, you saw my cat/mouse. What business do I have in teaching art?

If I’m being honest, dread is my greatest motivator, and just jumping in usually helps a lot. So despite my nerves, I’ve been coming back from co-op energized and filled with new creativity. It turns out I like working with homeschool kids (not a total surprise after a stint as a teen librarian), and that classroom management isn’t as terrifying as I thought — not all that different than managing the chaos of a rousing night of laser tag at the library, in fact.

It all makes me think about the good stretch and the bad stretch, about getting a little outside your comfort zone and growing tougher and braver in the process. So, like, teaching art to eager, well-mannered kids at an age I totally get? Good stretch. Teaching, I don’t know, geometry to surly teens who don’t want to be there? Bad stretch. Too far. Good for you, not for me. (And when my friend at the co-op asked for a middle school PE teacher? Baaaaaaaaaad stretch, dear readers.)

I can’t always tell when I make the leap if the chasm is too far, but if I left the decision up to my gut, I’d be mousing around in cautious obscurity indefinitely. On the whole, I’d rather be collapsing at home on Friday afternoons, paint inexplicably crisping in my hair, damp marbled paper from a dozen eager fourth graders fanned out on every available surface. It’s chaotic and exhausting and scary, sure, but much more fun.

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Work by my talented fourth graders
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Author: Katherine Grimm Bowers

Babies. Books. Fledgling housewifery. Once and future librarian. Catholic. Always thinking about chocolate ice cream.

3 thoughts on “The Good Stretch”

  1. Marble paper! Cool project. I’ll have to show you my “leaf art” that bombed today with your godson… Can we plz live closer so you can do all the painting and I can show off my sweet middle school gym skills? #matballforever

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  2. The marble paper turned out great! Also, everyone should know some “back pocket” big kid group games in a pinch. I’ll have to show you some when we have a group of kids around to practice with. Then you’ll be prepared in the event of a PE emergency. 😉

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