Claire started softball practice last week. She'd been looking forward to it from the time I registered her three weeks ago to her first practice last Tuesday when she stepped the the edge of the baseball diamond, looked out onto the field of 9 year old girls tossing softballs to each other, looked back up at me and said, "I want to go home."
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"I just want to go home," she replied, as plainly and seriously she'd said it before.
"You know some of those girls. Look, there're those twins Candice and Cassidy."
I pointed to two chubby girls whose arms giggled when they threw the ball. These poor kids had been pink-skinned and chubby since preschool. I looked at Claire, doe-faced, blue-eyed, and slender. What did she have to be self-conscious about?
"I'm not good, I don't want to go," she said, getting a little desperate now.
"But you've been wanting to play. We've been praticing. You're good."
"No, no." She stepped back. "I want to go home."
I put my hand on her back, and then followed that consoling gesture with something that didn't help at all. "Claire, I bought you a glove. We've paid for you to play. You have to atleast try."
Now she yelled, "Nooo!"
Luckily, the coach's wife saw the predicament and started saying soothing things to Claire, gradually getting her to step onto the field. I must have looked like one of those moms who forces their kids to play sports. I kept wanting to tell this lady, "No really, she WANTS to play! She likes to play! She's just shy! I'M NOT A CRAZY PARENT!!!"
Christopher was different. Yesterday was his first tee ball practice, and when I pulled up to the field, he jumped out of the car so fast I don't think I'd shut off the engine. (That's an exaggeration. I'd turned off the engine. But I hadn't come to a complete stop. Or something) The difference between the two kids isn't so much their athletic ability. When I play with them in the backyard, they both respond well to the things I teach them. Claire can even throw a football pretty damn good. But when it comes to performing in front of anyone but me, they're night and day. Claire's attitude is, "Oh shit, I'm in the spotlight and now I will wither like an insecure plant. Christopher's reaction is, "When these people see how I can throw this ball they are going to faint with ecstasy." He also believes that any ball hit in any direction is his, and he will knock over other kids for the chance to catch it, even if he's standing in right field and the ball is hit backwards towards the catcher.
So we're working on the teamwork thing. Both teaching Christopher to recognize other players on the field, and teaching Claire not to care so much about the other players on the field. Can a happy medium be reached? (you're all going to make a bad joke about the availablity of a happy psychic, aren't you?) We shall see.
In other news, I just registered to for classes in the summer. I've decided to get my teacher's certification for high school english. Why, you ask? Because I'm into pain. No, it's something that I've been contemplating for a while. I would like to help kids learn to be better, more confident writers. The Catholic school system will hire you if you're enrolled in a certification program, so I've started applying to high schools for the fall. So we'll see. I've been praying for guidance for a while now and I feel that this is where I'm being led. I'm not giving up writing, you understand. Shit, Stephen King was a high school English teacher when he published Christine. Obviously, he was eventually able to retire. I'm not syaing I'll have the same luck. But you know, if I don't that's ok. I want a steady job, but more than that I want a steady homelife. If I'm not the next JK Rowling it won't kill me. And speaking of that such stuff, who knows - maybe I'll get famous after I'm dead. Woo hoo!
Anyway, my mom was a stressed out teacher when I was growing up, so that makes me nervous. That's what's turned me off of teaching in the past, actually. But I look at my friend Christina and I feel inspired. She teaches English, heads yearbook, and the school paper, and she's functional. She gets stressed out, but she handles it in a healthy way. So I've got hope.