Friday, January 23, 2009

A Week of Firsts

For seventeen years, every morning of the academic year has involved taking children to school. This time would have been cut short if Brooke had chosen to get her driver’s license when she turned sixteen. She didn’t – and at age nineteen still hasn’t. Fortunately, she lives in Chicago where mass transit negates the need for a car, a license, insurance, snow tires . . .Erin, on the other hand, has been ready to drive since . . .well, Brooke turned sixteen (she was thirteen). Or maybe it was when Erin turned sixteen in dog years. . . somewhere around two and a half. That may be a little more accurate. Though she has been ready to learn to drive for a long time, the adults in her life were slow on the uptake and she did not get her learner’s permit until late in the fall. Texas law requires that you drive with your permit for at least six months before being awarded your license. So, even though Erin turned sixteen in December, she did not get her driver’s license.

During all these years of raising kids, I have chosen to only teach part time. This provided a good balance and allowed me to feel like I was fulfilling my obligations at both home and at school. For the first time, this semester I was offered the opportunity to teach a full-time load. As is often the case with unexpected opportunity, I am faced with both blessings and challenges. From a teaching perspective, the challenge comes in teaching a course that I have not taught before, Music Appreciation. I have spent this first week of school familiarizing myself with the course materials and trying to figure out how to approach the rest of the semester. Having done that, I am excited about teaching the course. The rest of my course load is what it has been in the past - three music theory classes and composition. Perhaps the biggest change for me is having to be at school every day all day, with the exception of Friday. The transportation logistics have taken so creativity, but have all worked out in a pleasantly positive way. This is where another of those “firsts” of the week has come into play.

As the schedule stood, we had to drop Erin at school at 7 in order for those of us who are making the hour or so commute to Dallas to get to school by 8. Since Erin does not start class until 8:50, to her this was a bad plan. After some thought, we decided that she should apply for a hardship license. This is a restricted license that allows her to drive alone, in her case, to and from school. So this week as I started a new semester, Erin began driving to and from school by herself. This is a new-found freedom that she is much enjoying, one that affords her early morning trips to Starbucks and Target on the way (more or less) to school. Now I leave for school as she is getting up. We have a deal that she calls me and lets me know that she has gotten to school safely. I know that won’t last long, but for now it calms my maternal worries.

My days also now start much earlier than in semesters past. Surprisingly, this has turned out to be a good thing. I love the early morning. The problem here is that I also love the late night and I don’t do well on three or four hours of sleep. So, I now have to go to bed a little earlier than I am used to.

I am happy to greet each new day. A couple cups of coffee before the sun comes up and a hot breakfast with the one I love is a wonderful way to start the day. (I just need to remember that those cups of coffee are not compatible with the bumper to bumper traffic that we sometimes encounter on the way to school.) Rising and leaving home earlier also mean that I get to school with a great deal of time to prepare myself for class – make copies, review my notes, and drink a couple more cups of coffee.

All of these “firsts” are indicative of change and change often brings with it feelings of negativity and ill will. That is not the case here at all. Things are changing, but for the better. Sure. Some adjustment is necessary, but it is all worth the effort. And if things get tough, I’ll have another cup of coffee!