“There’s not a word yet, for old friends who’ve just met.” – Jim Henson
On the first day of school, I open my classroom door that is decorated with a massive tree made out of colored paper. Hanging from the tree are leaves that have the names of my students written on them….my 22 Kindergarten students. And here they are. I see them lined up against the hallway. Some of them have their blankets or stuffies out showing them to their new friends. Others are sitting with their backs straight against the wall, eyes starring ahead, afraid of what will happen next. Then, there are the ones that are rolling on the floor with their backpacks, picking their noses totally unaware that everyone is grossed out about what they are doing.
I have become a Kindergarten teacher. It’s only a part-time job, but it’s still a Kindergarten teacher. You see, I normally taught 5th and 6th graders. I know, I know, many of you are thinking that you would never want to be in a room with 11 or 12 year old boys and girls on the edge of becoming teenagers. You would never want to spend your time with the ones that totally smell of B.O. because they haven’t started using deodorant yet, and whose hormones are completely out of whack. But, those are the ones that I totally LOVE to be with. They challenge me and make me laugh. They are not too old to have fun, but old enough to take a joke. It’s my favorite age.
In fact, I couldn’t tell you how many times I have said that I would NEVER become a Kindergarten teacher. Nope, not me. Those kiddos are too young, and too needy. They cry a lot, get their feelings hurt and, yes, it must be said, that some of them still need help wiping! They put their fingers where they don’t belong, and somehow put it on me. I can’t tell you how many times I dry-heaved during that year of teaching 5 and 6 year olds. It was a job share position that I just couldn’t pass up. My family needed the money, but we still had a little one at home so I really didn’t’ want a full time job. I would be sharing the job with another teacher, and we would work every other day. It didn’t sound too bad. It was the only opportunity I had. I know that Jesus was watching me the whole time and laughing at how I said I would never do this. He was like, “Yeah, Shannon, we will see about that!”
Every single day in teaching is totally different. But, in Kindergarten every single minute is different. One day, during a small math lesson, I heard a moaning cry come from the cubbies…where the bathrooms are. I stopped my lesson, and the entire class turned around to see where the cry was coming from. I could see the top of a little boy’s head in my class coming from the bathrooms, and I can hear him moaning, but I can’t see his face through the bookshelves. Not a second goes by and there he is….completely naked in front of the entire class screaming at the top of his lungs that he had peed on his clothes on accident in the bathroom. Thus, he refused to put them back on. So, here I am standing before this pale boney naked little boy while the entire class of 5-year-olds start screaming and pointing in laughter. I stood there thinking this is why I thought I would NEVER teach Kindergarten, but here I am…..
Sometimes when life gives you opportunities, even the ones you said that you would NEVER take, they are not exactly what they seem. Yes, I knew this job was not my dream job, and I also knew it was going to be a big challenge changing my teaching techniques to fit into a Kindergarten environment. But, what I didn’t know was that my teaching partner would end up becoming a very dear friend to me. Out of all of the hundreds of teachers within my county that I could’ve be partnered up with, I got stuck with one of the most Christ centered women I have ever known. Not only was she a seasoned Kindergarten teacher who allowed me to piggyback on her knowledge (in fact, she carried me most of the way) she was my sister-in-Christ who became a one of my closest confidants and prayer warriors.
I only taught Kindergarten for one year….part-time….and that was about all I could handle. The students did grow on me, and I was able to get into the swing of the routine. But, more than anything, I am forever grateful for the friendship that was fostered during that time. I’m so happy that Jesus decided to teach me a lesson about what I was never going to do, and taught me that His plans are way better than mine. It changed me so much that I rarely say never anymore….did you get that? I didn’t say I never say never because that would be saying never! Know what I mean? Now, I feel like if I do, then that’s exactly where Jesus will lead me to grow and challenge me.
Think about what you have said “never” about. What limitations have you put on yourself? What limitations have you put on God? Your “never” may the very thing that the Lord is challenging you to do. It may be exactly what you need to grow in your faith, and grow closer to Him. What is it that you are afraid of? What’s holding you back? You never know, you may end up gaining one of your dearest friends in the process.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”