One Foot In Front of the Other

“Wow, are you serious?”  It was 4pm the following Tuesday, and I had just finished practice with my newly formed Academic Games team.  We were going to our first competition the following weekend, and the kids seemed excited and ready.  I had been so proud to bring the program to my new school, form a new team and register us for the first time in the Michigan League of Academic Games.  We were going to be working closely with my friend DC from my old school, competing in the same division as them.  I was looking forward to seeing her again and sharing all of the wonderful things happening at my new school.

Julie, the teacher next door to me, had run into me last Friday as I dropped off my sub plans.  I had hoped not to run into anyone  at seven in the morning.   After the sleepless night at the hotel and later at home as I waited for word from R’s father, I knew I wouldn’t be able to function at work.  I was sure I looked wild eyed and crazy as I ran into the building to write up something for a sub and leave it on my desk; I’d been right.  Julie had taken one look at me and known something was wrong.   I hadn’t told her then, just told her that there was a family thing going on that I needed to deal with.  But the following Monday when I returned to work, her kindness and thoughtfulness had led me to trust her and so I told her about R and the scene at the hotel.

“Yes, a three day involuntary stay.  His father took him home Monday morning.”

“I’m so sorry, I had no idea.  You always seem so happy and upbeat here at work, I’d never guess that you were the one with issues at home.”

I laughed.  “The thing about this is that I am happy at work.  I love my job, it’s even better than I had imagined it could be.  The kids are great, I love my coworkers, it’s all going well.  So it’s easy to not let the home stuff interfere because this is all so great…it’s much easier to focus on the good stuff going on than the bad, you know?”

“Yeah, I get that.  It’s easy to let work become the focus when everything else starts to suck.”

“Exactly.  I guess I’m lucky; a year ago I’d be in a  puddle in the corner because then I’d be dealing with work sucking and my home life sucking.  I can handle one at a time, but not both.”

“Fair enough.”  Julie paused.  “I know we don’t know each other very well, but seriously…if you need anything, help with Zach, or anything, I’d be happy to help.”

I looked down to the floor, my automatic response when I didn’t feel worthy of the kindness someone was extending to me.  I forced myself to look up at Julie and smile.  “Thank you.  That’s really nice of you.”

“It’s not nice at all,” she responded.  “It’s completely selfish.  I really don’t want a sub to cover your classes again; I had no one to talk to all day long, and the kids were loud.  I’m just trying to make sure you show up to work, is all.”

I laughed.  “Point taken,” I answered lightly and gathered my things to go home.

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