Con.nect (verb): to join together or to become joined. (Your Dictionary.com)
The origins of the word connect stem from the latin word conectere, “con” – together and “nectere” – bind. Depending on how the word is used, as we know, the definition changes. So I am going to use connect with regards “to forming a relationship or creating an infinity with someone or something”.
I do not have many talents, but one thing that I do seem to have a knack for, is an affinity with children. This is not, to be confused with being “childish”. Like you, I still have all the joys and pleasures of adult-life awaiting my attention: bills, work, cooking, cleaning, shopping and so on, but, I am also able to take pleasure in moments of childish joy. I am able to connect with both my child (as a mother) and my inner child (as an adult).
This may sound a bit wishy washy. Some of you are already inwardly cringing: “is she going to tell us to sing the hokey cokey, play dress up and have tea parties?” (Wikipedia offers this sage advice.)
During the first few years of teaching, I was able to transport myself into my students shoes with ease. We would romp around the classroom, go out to the playground for games of “stuck in the mud” and “leap frog”, do box craft and *glitter-based activities in art and sing until my voice was so hoarse that I needed a whole weekend of silence just to be able to speak again on a Monday morning. Over time, my workload increased, the pressure of meeting targets and curriculum preparation, exams, meetings, etc started to slow me down. I felt constrained, frustrated and tired.
My mojo then packed its bags, waved goodbye and off it skipped into the sunset. I was devastated.
Don´t worry though. This story has a happy ending and when my daughter was born, my mojo finally decided to make its way back to me. After spending the first year of motherhood basically bumbling around wondering who and where I was most of the time, my mojo began giving me tentative pokes in the back, encouraging me to start letting go a little, have fun, make a bit of a mess, jump around, dance (the hokey cokey), sing, play and basically feel that childish joy and wonder again.
Children are mini-miracles (I also went around sharing this mortifying fact with people for quite a while after Dani was born). There is nothing quite like being inside a child´s head. It is like being on a full-time and endless adventure. It is both beautiful and marvelous and at some point, they and we, will outgrow the wonder of all things child-like.
I was talking to a fellow mother last week (not under educational circumstances) and she told me that she felt awful because, between work and domestic life, she believed that she had no “real” time left for her son. I felt like that too for a long time, however, being exhausted will pass (mostly) and small opportunities to re-connect with yourself, your child or your students will reappear once again.
Your version of your inner-child may not be the same as mine. Or the same as the mum next door. Or the teacher in the opposite classroom. So what?
Childish pleasure should be a selfish experience of freedom, even just for a few moments. It should also be anything that has the ability to make you feel happy, from playing hide and seek, cooking cupcakes (and of course eating them), to rolling down a hill in a park, splashing through puddles or dancing to your favourite music (necessarily the hokey cokey). Whatever it is though, you need to be smiling at the end of it.
If you feel you may be lacking a little in the mojo department, or you are controlled by time, then you will need to consciously take a time-out in your day. A minute or two is a good start and if you are in view of the general public when you get your buzz on, then you will need to just suck it up and go with it. I often get “wtf looks” when I am dangling from a climbing frame or “riding horses” through the park. I no longer see them because I am too busy connecting with my (inner) kid and loving it.
So go find your (unicorn) wings again, spread them wide, be free and fly.
* Glitter should only be used in tube glue format. All that glitters in indeed not gold and takes day, weeks and even years to find and clean off!