Then, through an unintentional but utterly reliable grapevine, you start to suspect that you were second, or third, or maybe even fourth choice for this assignment. “Wow,” you think. “I must be pretty nice. I’m the only one who will say yes.”
Then you spend ninety-seven hours the week before school starts (because they didn’t ask you until the week before school starts) doing online training, reading manuals, and replying to a dizzying onslaught of emails regarding attendance policies, tardy policies, reading policies, credit policies, classroom policies, and a bunch of other policies that sound superduper important but will just have to wait until you figure out where Habakkuk can be found in the Old Testament (between Nahum and Zephanian, thankyouverymuch) because that is what you will be teaching this year: the Old Testament. And then you think “Wow. I must be pretty gullible. I just agreed to teach the Old Testament.”
In just ninety-seven hours, you went from sharp to nice to gullible. But, whatev: you still have to teach the Old Testament—to a classroom of teenagers, at six a.m., Monday through Friday.
At six a.m., Monday through Friday.
Wait…did I already tell you that last part? No matter. It bears repeating. That, and the part about the Old Testament.
My land. I haven’t read the Old Testament since I took it as a religious class at BYU–and when I say “read,” of course I mean “skimmed.” (I was twenty and single. As if.) And now here I am, standing at a podium in a classroom every morning while it’s still dark out, pretending that I:
a) know the Old Testament,
b) understand the Old Testament, and
c) can explain the Old Testament to these eager young minds. (Wait, did I say “eager?” As if.)
And on top of this sorry charade, I am also trying to make the Old Testament interesting! and fun! to a classroom of teenagers—at six a.m., Monday through Friday. It’s been, um, challenging. It’s been, um, hard. It’s been, um–okay fine–patently impossible. Because they see right through me, I know they do.
They may not say it, but I can sense the suspicion, the contempt, the secret-sleep-trick-where-you-shield-your-eyes-with-your-hands-and-look-down-like-you’re-reading-but-I-know-you-are-sleeping-because-I-invented-this-trick-in-my-tenth-grade-oceanography-class. I can feel the eyerolls and silent yawns when I turn my back to write Bilbah on the chalkboard. Oh, they smile politely and laugh when cued, but these kids are smart and they know a fraud when they see one. I should run and hide in shame, but instead I keep showing up and talking, just a little more loudly, morning after morning. I pretend not to know that they know I’m a fake. And they pretend not to know that I know that they know. Thanks to the collective sleep deprivation, it all works out.
But in spite of all this, I will tell you a secret that, after much speculation over many issues for many years, finally secures my place as a Nerd among Nerds:
I love it.
I love it.
I LOVE IT!
Wait…did I already tell you that last part? No matter. It bears repeating. Because this is the most fun, fascinating, fulfilling thing that I’ve tackled since I had children of my own and, truth be told, I’m a lot less tired and cranky now than I was back then. (Waking at five is nothing when you’ve been allowed to sleep the night before. My little ingrates never gave me that luxury.)
And here’s another secret: teenagers are great people—great people. As in, fabulous. At least, the ones who take early morning seminary are. Because really, what kind of kid signs up to go to church for an hour before school every day? The fabulous kind, that’s what.
Teaching is fun, and teenagers are fun, and the Old Testament is fun (really) and so at six a.m., Monday through Friday, I immerse myself in a Trifecta of Fun. A Funfecta. And I love it.
My only regret is that I’ve had no time to write, as all of my reading/writing/laptop time has been consumed with Noah and his terribly naughty neighbors. But when I start to feel pained for my forgotten pen, I ask myself: what are my unexpressed thoughts compared to those of a woman who morphs into a lump of salt? Talk about being rendered speechless. Worse things could happen to me than a neglected blog, so I’m trying not to worry about it—to everything there is a season, et al. (Not to show off, but that’s fresh from Ecclesiastes, which is found between Proverbs and the Song of Solomon. I’m just saying is all.)
And though I do miss the writing, what I really miss is you. Very much. I’ve never been into social media (my blog is more of a writing outlet), but since we’ve moved, I understand people’s need for it. I understand my new need for it, because it makes me feel less alone in this brave new world of changed town, changed house, changed people, changed church work. All good changes, but changes nonetheless. And you—you are my happy and familiar place to come back to, always always always. I hope you don’t mind.
So I will write when I can, and I hope you will write when you can. And I’ll try not write too much about a man scuba diving in a whale’s gut or a nasty band of brothers going postal over a striped coat, but I can’t make any promises. Art imitates life, you know, and right now, the whale and the coat–and a whole lotta other craziness between Genesis and Malachi, at six a.m., Monday through Friday–is my life. And I love it.