Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wasted Resources

I watch intently as two of the Monkeys craft, and carefully create handmade Valentine's Day cards for loved ones.  They snip with scissors,  add gobs of glue, and smoosh layer upon layer of colored construction paper.

And then there are the stickers. Beautiful pages of "heart-shaped stickers," booklets of glossy "Marvel Comic Superhero’s" and "Disney Princesses."  One page each of puffy Dora the Explorer and Super Mario Brother stickers, eight sparkly stickers to a page.  I draw in a deep breath and exhale slowly. 

The Monkeys stick away with reckless abandon.  All eight puffy stickers are used in 2 seconds flat, no regard given to placement or position on the card.  They burn through the Glossy Booklets in no time at all and the "heart-shaped" stickers were no match for these two. 

I watch as my Monkeys, my own flesh and blood, waste the precious resources at their disposal. 

Even as a young child, I savored resources like "stickers" and "special paper."  I was
(and still am) hesitant to share my treasures with anyone, even my own children. 

Here in my dining room, I watch the Mini Monkey affix 27 Happy Valentine’s Day stickers to a blank piece of white paper, each overlapping the other in an arch.  I feel a swell of excitement as she describes with great pride the "rainbow" of stickers she has created. 

"She gets it," I think to myself with delight, "She has my eye for design, for style, for order and balance in an artistic composition." 

I am floating on the edge of this reverie just as she happily takes a pair of safety scissors and hacks haphazardly into her clever creation.  She snips straight through the "sticker rainbow" without rhyme or reason.  She grabs absentmindedly at a scrap of brown construction paper and glues it sloppily on top of the sticker rainbow.

WTF???  I am screaming inside my head.  You just wasted 27 Valentine’s Day Stickers?!?!?! Why would you do that????

This is what I WANT to say to my 2 year old...instead... I praise her creativity and hang the creation on the refrigerator. 

I think about my job and how this lesson may apply.

My time is my resource, and just as the stickers are limited, so is my time.  Twenty-four hours in a day at last check and I spend eight of these hours trying to inspire teenagers to become better versions of themselves.  Trying to show them the world that is available to them if they only try, if they stop settling for good enough. 

I spend hours of time and countless kilocalories of energy investing in students who are not nearly as interested in their future as I am. 

My love does not understand the way I utilize my time. He silently screams, "Why????"

In my heart I know that my resources are not wasted, and even a little victory like keeping a kid from dropping out is worthy of the effort that made it possible.   So just as my Mini-Monkey's masterpiece deserves recognition and credit, so do the fruits of my educator’s labor.  They may not fit with the traditional idea of student success but I think they are pretty damn fridge worthy.


  1. Erin~Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder - look as picaso!! Enjoy your valetines for they will be worth much more in the future!!

  2. Good insight--and use of resources!

  3. Thanks Momma & Ellen (aka Anonymous:) - I will treasure my "picaso's":)

  4. I do the same thing w my son! And I teach as well! I fit in as much as I possibly can w my students in the little time I have, but this year I have taken a deep breath and slowed down.
    It really has helped me in my personal and professional life, and it helps my students too.

  5. It's hard to just let go and let their creativity shine. But it's all worthwhile when you sit back and see how they beam with pride.