Last night at Walmart, I spotted a former kindergarten student from Willard that I had the pleasure of spending a few days with in the spring when I subbed in his class. I recognized him immediately...the whipper-snapper had left quite an impression. We made eye contact in the snack aisle, and I could tell that he knew that he knew me...from somewhere.
I waved. He eagerly said "hi". Then...
Me: "Hi! Are you ready for school to start?"
Alex: "Yep. ... Look! I get to get these!" (holding up a box of Cars fruit snacks) "They're a snack!"
Me: "Yum! Those look tasty!"
Alex: (brief pause) "Are you a teacher...at Willard?"
Me: "Well, yes, a substitute teacher."
It was then that the little guy's eyes doubled in size...he'd figured it out! His mouth opened as if in complete and utter shock, and excitement, that a teacher (so to speak) could be shopping at Walmart...and he had seen her!
Alex: "So, I'll see you there?!"
That child caused a couple of headaches for me (and likely a few dozen for his teacher), but getting to see him yesterday and his happy anticipation of being back at school made me ever so much more excited to be back there myself.
Substitute teaching isn't where I ever would have expected my career path to lead me, and admitting that it's what I do "full-time" these days has taken a bit of time for me to say with confidence. But, truly, subbing is perfect for me right now. I enjoy it. I'm good at it! I get to be in the classroom, I get to have new experiences every day, I get to face constant challenges that keep me on my toes, I get a flexible schedule...and, it's a job that I can step away from easily when I'm ready for the one job that I've ever really wanted: motherhood.
I'm not a full-time teacher, and I don't pretend as though my subbing commitment is significantly comparable to the efforts that certified teachers achieve in their classrooms on a daily basis. But, I do believe that I can make a difference by doing this job well. Whether or not it's a particularly admirable job (it certainly isn't glamorous!), it makes me happy. I get a chance to do my best and make a meaningful impact. And, really, shouldn't that be the goal of any job or responsibility?
A new school year is about to begin. Between that brief encounter at the store, and the slight crisp in the air that's making it feel just a bit like fall...I'm ready.
Me: (smiling) "I'll see you there!"