Saturday, March 10, 2007

rodeo revelation

I learned something very important at the 2007 Houston Rodeo.

I am not ready to be a mother.

Yes, I realize that I've skipped a few steps  in my road to motherhood (namely a stable man with a ring and a white dress and a church), but before we find all of that I'm already sure of one thing: I teach children, I can't have my own. At least not right now.

My forge into my first adult spring break began with a trip to the Houston Rodeo with Christina, Barrett, Mr. Matthews and 10 of our students. Christina brought about this little trip as a way to reward some of our behavior achievers and to give the kids a glimpse of livestock life. It was fun. It was exhausting. It didn't smell as bad as I thought it would.

I know you might be asking yourself how we go from carnival rides and cattle to delaying motherhood. Patience, we'll get there. We began our journey a little under an hour later than we planned to begin our journey and surprisingly this was not because we had to divvy children into cars or make sure everyone went to the bathroom. As many things as my dear Ms. Wallace is, she is not all that efficient. But I digress.

By the time we reached downtown and headed toward the metro train I had already counted the children some five times. Downtown equals cars and bars and people. My internal sensor rose a notch or two once we left the cars and hit the street. Ten kids. Ten kids who aren't mine. Ten kids I don't want to break or lose or generally traumatize in any way.

It's a whole different ball game when you're teaching children in the confines of a school. It's kind of like being in a bubble (or at least it's supposed to be). You have to take care of them in a whole different manner when you're in the school building. In the confines of the school building you don't generally have to worry about random strangers, crowded ride areas or knowing about the things that can happen when you lose sight of them for just five seconds. Also, inside the school there's a shared sense of responsibility. Yeah, we might break one or two on school property, but there's a good 50 other adults to share the responsibility.

At the rodeo there were just 3 other adults. And really just Christina and me to share the responsibility, we were the masterminds of this little field trip.

Besides my constant counting and wishing they would all walk at the same speed and cluster more, we actually had a really good time. They rode rides, ate greasy, greasy carnival food and attempted a few overly priced carnival games. We never made it to the animal section of the rodeo, though we did see a pig race.

Although it was fun, it seemed like every five minutes I had a minor anxiety attack and felt the need to count. And then you count and you wonder if you counted them all right or did you double count one and another has already wandered off? Then you see that drunk guy walking near the girls and you wonder if he's just walking or if your need to move closer to them is correct. After that you have to look around for Rodney because he wanders. Then there's the counting again (it's been five minutes). Of course you have to count twice because you might have mis-counted.

So here I am at the end of the night, happy and tired and thinking that if the level of anxiety I have from watching someone else's children is anything near the level of anxiety I will have when it's my own 4 foot nothing miracle then I'm a long way off from being ready for that.

My mentor, who happens to be a mother and a teacher says you learn to stop counting. You teach the children to self-monitor and you trust them a little bit more. I don't know about that. I worry about breaking the one's who aren't even mine, how will I ever trust myself with someone who is half of me? That's a lot of pressure.

I suppose this is nothing I need to worry about right now.

No boy.

No ring.

Not even a cowboy.

Definitely no baby.

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