Readers, thank you for your patience as I have not been writing much lately. It seems like yesterday that I wrote to you all announcing the birth of my baby girl. Since then, I’ve been living in a blur of joys and poopie diapers. I was fortunate enough to have two months of paternity leave. That time has come and gone and now I have been back to work for nearly a month.
As I write this, I am enjoying my Thanksgiving break, or as I am calling it right now daddy daughter date day two (April went back to work yesterday for the first time in three months!). Sofia is sitting in her swing across the room, fortunately she is sound asleep (at least for now, but she’ll be awake and hungry any moment now), so I have a little time to share with you some of the things I have been thinking about through this current season.
I’ve been thinking about therapy. In October it seemed like everyone was emphasizing the importance of mental heath. Well, earlier this year I took the plunge. I finally decided to start going to a therapist. I think I may have mentioned struggling with sleep anxiety and I may have even mentioned going to a therapist before. But here’s the deal, it still feels like I shouldn’t be talking about all of this, especially at the end of my two month paternity leave.
Like why should I be bringing up how I am struggling when I have only worked six weeks since August and over the last 18 months I’ve mostly been able to work from home. Shouldn’t I be all refreshed? Through this time God has blessed me with more time with April, two cute doggies, and now the cutest little girl ever. Yet, I am sure you all can find common ground with me as fear has crept in. What if I fail at all this? What if I can only handle being home and going into work is too much for me?
That is where the wisdom of my therapist comes in. Failure must be an option. I will be okay if any of my classes go badly, if I have a bad review, if someone at work says something offensive to me, or even if I am fired from my job. Yet, these are the fears that often wake me up at night. I will even be okay if I do not sleep well or at all.
So the other night as I was trying to fall back to sleep I decided to expect God to show up and take care of my day. It is clear I can’t make things work on my own. And the more I think about it, I am not supposed to. Somehow men have taken on the idea that to be a man we must be able to handle everything and never ask for help. That’s a direct slap in God’s face. He created us to need him. I have come to find that my days go better when I give up my desire to do it all on my own and ask God to show up.
Sometimes God showing up is something small like last week when one of my students brought me homemade Moroccan bread or when different coworkers and students have asked me about Sofia. Those small acts of kindness remind me that God is in my day. He cares about my joy. And if I know God shows up in the small things, then I know he will take care of me when the hard days come. So when I start to fear failing at my job or at being a dad, God reminds me that He will meet me there. Maybe that is what He meant when He said do not be afraid because he will be there in the midst of it all.
For me, that thought takes all the pressure off of me and it allows me the freedom to love on my baby girl which I need to go do as she is waking up from her nap. Pray that daddy date day two and three go smoothly or that if I fail at something with my little girl God shows up like he promised.
“I can’t handle my school work,” read a message one of my students sent three weeks before the end of the school year. “My dad just went into the ICU and I don’t think I can do this,” she continued. My heart broke as I read this message. And as I think back over the school year, I know why it has taken me so long to finish writing about it. This year was exhausting, both emotionally and physically. When I first started to write this, I was mad. Anger is okay, but I want my blog to bring joy. Even when the subject is as difficult as what the school year and Covid put my students through.
For the majority of the year this student showed up to each of my zoom meetings, commented on the pictures that decorate my background, and worked hard all year long. Yet, as we come to the end of the semester Covid reared its ugly head inside this students’ family. “They’re all sick but I am asymptomatic” the student told me. I cannot imagine that pressure. Yet, sadly this has not been the only conversation I’ve had with students who’s families dealt with the struggles of Covid.
While I stayed sheltered safely at home many of my students live were at risk. They live in multigenerational households where staying home and learning remotely means caring for their siblings or their siblings children as one of my students has had to do all year long. Yet, I stayed comfortable at home, teaching in my pajamas. For most of the year I woke up about an hour before my zoom meetings started, played with my dogs, ate breakfast, and then made sure everything was ready for my classes. As I documented earlier in this school year, I chose to stay sheltered at home and teach remotely because of past health issues and April’s pregnancy. Now that we are both vaccinated we are experiencing more freedom. It’s like it’s 2019 or almost something like that since we are still choosing to stay home as much as possible.
But there is a disparity between my life and the lives of my students. My life has been comfortable, even if this school year was stressful, while my students have been put through the wringer. For the 2020-2021 school year my district expected all of my students to learn at the same level as they would have in a non-pandemic school year, despite the fact that my students’ families faced Covid at a higher rate than the rest of the district. As a teacher, I am all for my students becoming life long learners and using this year to grow. Unfortunately the district only measures growth by looking at test scores. Tests do not care how a student is doing emotionally, nor if a family has been dealing with Covid. So now not only do my students have to fight against Covid, but they have to make sure they are acing their tests. Where is the grace in this?
I want my students to know that they matter so that I can help them on the road toward healing. This past year, more than any, I felt like it has been important for them to know that. The feeling of not mattering and even more feeling invisible is something I struggle with at times. This struggle is something I’m working on with my therapist. He reminded me that the feelings of not mattering and invisibility are ones that will pop up my entire life. He likened it to a country road with a ditch on the side. While we travel down the road we are healing. We might fall into the ditch and feel like we should be ashamed that we are not on the road anymore, but in fact we are further away from the start of our journey and that first wound that made us feel that way than we were a year ago or six years ago. We just need to get back up and start walking. My therapist has been a helpful hand in picking me up when I’ve fallen into the ditch. It’s because of him I decided to teach in my pajamas. Simple comforts can help us remember that we are loved. Many of my students have fallen into the ditch this year and I want them to know they are loved.
This year as I taught from home I felt like I didn’t matter and that I was invisible to my school community. These feelings are what led me to finalizing seeing a therapist, which has been incredibly healing. He let me know that it is okay to feel anxious, sad, irrelevant, and invisible at times. Those feelings are feelings Jesus felt when he died for us which is why when I feel that way I can know he has compassion for me. Also, because he felt that way I know it is normal to feel that way too and so then I don’t feel so bad. I know my students have been feeling the same as me and I have compassion for them, and so during each class I made sure to tell them how much I love them, how much they matter, and made sure to spend time talking to them so that they feel seen. We played games, I made polls for my baby girl’s name (this brought some great laughter), let them play with my co-teacher puppies (well, only virtually) who sat next to me during nearly every lesson (or actually they wrestled and yipped, spilled water bowls, and generally added the chaos back to my classroom), and most of all I just listened to them. My favorite time doing this came two weeks before the end of the year as we were preparing for the state mandated MAP test. Through zoom I was able to meet with each of my students and tell each of them how much they mattered to me.
I don’t know how my students did on their tests yet, but I am guessing that they did well. I do know that each of them ended the year feeling known and loved (and hopefully a little proud at the great work they did).
Three weeks ago on the last day of school Jesus did something fun for me. He reminded me that I matter and that I am not invisible. My students awarded me one of the ten staff members of the year. I still feel honored and seen. Maybe I should teach in my pajamas every year. Maybe my puppies should show up to my classroom in real life next year. Maybe my students do know they are loved (puppies can do that). Maybe that love will help my student who is still waiting for her dad to recover from Covid.
Driving down I-25 here in Denver is exhausting. Lanes are constantly closed for construction; will it ever end? Yet, I am like I-25 as I too am under constant construction. 2020 has been no different. I could choose to let the challenges of this year frustrate me in the same why I grow frustrated by the constant highway construction. But I am a man becoming more than I am, so I proudly announce that I am under construction.
The question driving my bid for renewal is twofold. Who do I want to be in ten years and who was I ten years ago? I find that if I look at my life as incomplete and under construction (like I-25), I can give myself the grace to take risks, go on adventures, and be a better husband and friend. While we all want road construction to end, it is freeing to know that I am in the state of becoming.
So who was I ten years ago? I was a man who longed for a passion to ignite a true adventure.
2010: I was a loyal friend struggling with what I wanted to do for work. My adventurous job in Guatemala, a resource teacher at The Inter-American School in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, was fun, but I felt a longing for more. I loved my job that year, but I knew I couldn’t just play tag with Kindergartners for the rest of my life, so I decided that after the end of the school year I would move back to Colorado.
2011: I was lost and lonely as I struggled to find love, work, and friends. Upon moving back into my parents’ house I was depressed because my desire for more seemed like I and settled for much less. But I began to dream about moving back to Guatemala. This move wasn’t to be, however the strong bonds I had built with my former students led me to realize I missed teaching and so I applied for a graduate teaching program at Regis University.
2012: Grad school started as I was working for The Neighborhood Church as the Kids’ Minister. I took my church to Guatemala to lead a mission trip, came back and started with a job at Chipotle, it didn’t last long, but I did learn how to make really good guac! I nearly dropped out of grad school after my first day off class because I didn’t want to write a paper, but fortunately I had made some friends who could tell me to suck it up and press on. I am not a quitter so I wrote that paper.
2013: I completed grad school and did my student teaching at Columbine. I also stopped blogging because I didn’t think my life was worth sharing. Looking back at this year I see a man who was insecure so he stopped writing.
2014: This year was a hunt for a job. By summer time I had been rejected so many times I felt like giving up so I went back to Guatemala to celebrate the graduation of some of the coolest kids I taught. While I was there I was offered a job at a middle school here in Denver. Between finding a teaching job and going to Guatemala my brother-in-law invited me to a Wild At Heart bootcamp in Georgia. To prepare for the bootcamp, I reread Wild At Heart for the first time in over a decade and was hit by the idea that God wants me to be fully alive in him. Not just that, but that the world needs men who are truly alive. Before this, I truly felt stagnate in who I was. Even though I had obtained my maters and was on my way to finding a job in an important field, I felt directionless in my quest to find a passion to ignite my life. Coming to life took work though. I had to let go of the shame that had intrenched itself in my life. I had been stuck on things I had done that I was not proud of, which were making me think I didn’t deserve love, especially that of a woman. 2014 taught me that I didn’t need to be perfect to find love and that it was okay to be under construction because that meant I was letting God move in me so I could lead a life that was fully alive.
2015: I nearly died. Life is strange in the way that I know I can only grow if I face challenges. 2015 was a challenge I didn’t want to face. In July I decided to go visit Harry Potter World (AKA Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida). The trip was awesome, but I came back with pneumonia. I have talked about this experience a bit, but here was my take away. As I was drugged up after my second surgery that September, I decided I needed to be more deliberate with how I lived my life. This meant I needed to take risks with love again.
2016: In February the Broncos won the Super Bowl, and more importantly, I met April. We did not meet at a Super Bowl party because she hates football, but at the movies because, like me, she loves great stories. Without going to the Wild At Heart boot camp and hearing that my heart matters and then nearly dying of pneumonia, I would never have been able to open up my heart to her (it still took nearly all year for me to realize I was worthy of a relationship anyway, but that is another story). Thankfully, God led April to not give up on me and by December I was a man in love and I knew she was the one I wanted to adventure with for the rest of my life.
2017: I took the biggest risk of my life. While work was not going well and everything seemed unsure, I bought a ring, took April to Harry Potter World (AKA Universal Studios California) and proposed to her in the driving rain on my birthday. In July we said our vows. This year changed me for the better, but it was a challenge. I wanted to be the best man I could be for April.
2018: I took my wife’s world on my shoulders. Perfection was my goal. Apparently I had forgotten that it was okay to be under construction. I thought I needed to earn enough money to defeat the debt that April and I occurred, save for a house, and provide for our daily needs. I stopped sleeping well. Sleepy and anxious, God reminded me that he provides more than enough. He provided the money for our wedding and had calmed things down at my job, so he would come through for me in our daily needs. I was a man in need of God.
2019: April and I bought a house! This would not have happened if I had been trying to do life all on my own. Through our marriage, my anxiety over work and sleep, God pulled me closer to him. On one of my walks before April and I moved into our new home God reminded me that I needed to give myself grace. I was listening to a podcast and the host was talking about being frustrated with his son. He didn’t know what to do about his son’s behavior and was contemplating a harsh punishment when he walked by a building with a large sign on it. It read: Under Construction. God then reminded him that his son was under construction. He was not yet the man he was meant to be and then God told the podcast host, that he too, was under construction.
2020: I’ve been under construction all year. At times it has looked like April and I just sitting on our couch watching a movie or doing a puzzle. But there are no justs in life. This year has been one for the ages or something like that. But with all the chaos and maybe because of the chaos and the pain I have experienced, I have been able to let God use this year to work on me. I’ve been challenged to give up things I love, like being in my classroom with my students or coaching my teams, all for the safety of my health. This year has been a year of mourning the loss of normality, but then again I started off this year desiring a beautiful adventure. God has given me one, but I have had to look for it in the small daily activities. Through my walks with Gryffin and April (but mostly Gryffin) God has opened my eyes again to the beauty of nature. These walks and all this time at home has given me the opportunity to think about what kind of man I want to be.
In 2021 I want to be a man who lives in the moment with those around me, especially April and Gryffin. I want to build deeper friendships. Friendships where we pray and fight for one another. I want to be okay that I am not a finished product. I want to make mistakes and learn from them. I want to take the time to laugh and play. I want to be the man who is okay with the man I used to be. It is okay that I have been insecure, perfectionistic, and full of shame because without those traits I wouldn’t need God’s grace. His grace is what saves me and so I want to be a man who lives in God’s grace.
Teachers live for summer, right? Freedom for adventure right at your feet, or just to use the bathroom whenever. Oh and all the extra sleep, but sleep started to stress me out during the summer of 2018.
Yes, that was over a year ago, but for the longest time I felt like if I talked about how much I was struggling to sleep, my sleep patterns would worsen. But I don’t believe that anymore and here is how God helped me change my mindset.
In 2018 my adventures seemed limited to waking up in the middle of the night, taking care of my landlords house, and worrying about being able to provide for my wife. I was attempting to control my little world but God wanted me to surrender.
When I would wake up worrying about our finances. He would tell me he was in control anyway. I would wake up worried about healthy eating and my physical health. God would remind me that he has always taken care of me and that no matter what he wants the best for me. I started worrying about taking care of the house we were living in. I didn’t want to be thinking about these things so early in the morning. Time and time again God would remind me that the best life is a life surrendered to him.
Yet, I stressed on. I wanted to be able to provide for April, buy us a house, and make us successful. Surrender is difficult, so I didn’t sleep.
Without sleep, my rhythm has been off. I cannot blame it on where I live, bad air conditioning, poor heating, or the fact that my wife is a furnace. Figuratively and literally! When we are next to one another in bed my body temp starts to rise, which doesn’t let me sleep. Like I said, last summer I started stressing about many different things, but most of all I stressed about how hot I was when I was hoping to be asleep or I would stress about sleep.
A little history on my sleep patterns. When I was in the seventh and eighth grade I started struggling to fall asleep because I was too busy thinking up the statistics for Terrill Davis and the other Denver Broncos. During 1998, when TD would run for 2008 yards on the season, I started calculating what he needed to do to reach that feat each night as I lay in bed. Soon sleep outweighed my desire to not worry about stats. My solution was a fan to drown out my thoughts. Over the years the fan has morphed into prayer time at night, a thankfulness journal, and a rain noise app on my phone.
On nights when none of these solutions worked, I used I would envision a peaceful field or hike and I would take myself into that situation and fall into a dream so over the last year when I just couldn’t fall back to sleep I was unsure what to do when my mind would not shut off.
I felt like I was lost in a sleep deprived haze. My brain buzzed. I was waking up with my heart pounding and in a puddle of sweat. I was stressed, but I didn’t want to talk about it and this made me feel alone. Why was this happening? Over the last year I feel like I would turn a corner and recapture that mythic ability to sleep through the night and then I would go and talk about it. Someone would ask me, “how are you sleeping” and I would crash. I was convinced that if I talked about my sleep, I would start stressing about it, and therefore, I wouldn’t sleep well. So I kept silent. I refused to surrender and my adventure seemed to stall out. But that would change in September. More on that next week.
Football season has tarted, school is back in high gear, and I am blogging again!
First, I would like to apologize for abandoning my readers. I’ve been quite busy for the last couple of months. I finished all of my masters classes and I’ve now started student teaching at Columbine High School here in Denver. It is great to be back in the classroom. I really feel like I am learning lots.
During my time teaching in Guatemala I tried to keep a blog every other week. Now that I am teaching again, I am going to try to keep that same commitment. I loved sharing all of my new experiences with my readers while I was in Guatemala and so I hope you all will enjoy reading about my time in the classroom here in Denver.
On my first day of teaching in Guatemala, one of my students, who was part Guatemalan (her dad is from Guatemala and her mom is from Indiana) told me that I looked like Peyton Manning. At the time I didn’t know that she’d grown up in Indiana, so this comment really caught me off guard.
People have been telling me I look like Peyton Manning since I was in the 7th grade, around the time Peyton was a senior at Tennessee. Once Eli became a star in the NFL, people started to claim I looked like him instead.
People started to argue. Families were split, I know how the manning family feels when the two play each other (Which is happening on September 15th, Go Broncos!!), all over this single question: no, not which Manning is the better QB, but who do I look more like, Peyton or Eli?.
And so I thought that my students here in Denver would jump right into this argument. Who do I look like more, Eli or Peyton?
I didn’t bring it up, not wanting to distract my class, but I was sure that one of the football crazy students would say something. I mean Peyton is the quarter back of our home town team. But it took two weeks for any kids to bring anything up.
Midway through last week a girl in my freshmen class raised her hand and said, “Mr. Scott, has anyone every told you that you look like Peyton Manning?” I think she was hoping she would’ve been the first to have this thought. Like any good teacher, I shattered her dreams. “Yes,” I replied seriously, “we’re related.”
Sadly, I am not related to the Manning, and no I didn’t actually tell her that I was related to him, but I wish I could’ve. I wish I actually was, because then I might not be only five feet eight inches tall. Oh well! I’ll just live to accept being a stunt double for either Peyton or Eli. I’m just sad that they didn’t ask me to be in their F.O.Y.P. commercial.
So who do you all think I look like? Peyton or Eli?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to teach preschool age kids? How about four-year-olds who’s first language is Spanish? Oh, these kids understand a little English now, but sometimes I feel like they just don’t want to pay attention.
Two weeks ago I was asked to fill in for the regular pre-k teacher and teach for a full morning. My first reaction was to throw a temper tantrum. With my semester’s experience of teaching these kids, I know how to throw a good one. But I decided to handle it like a man and see what I could learn.
Big surprise, all of the kids, not just the ones that who excel (a word used loosely here) in English, knew their classes’ daily routine. Routines are saviors for little kids. Early in my PE class I installed a routine. The pre-kers follow me out to the court. We walk on the wooden sandbox to work on balance, then hop around a set of stones that lead to the court, and finally we race to the center of the basketball court. At least that is the plan. If you can imagine the next part of the routine is even more chaotic. I try to lead them in stretches but they run around. Typically one of the little guys asks me if he can take off his jacket. This causes a chain reaction that ends in all the kids running-amuck, jacketless. On good days we follow our stretches with a bunch of different fun movements, like crawling like a bear, walking like a crab, and skipping. Then we try to play a game. My routine doesn’t always work that well, but I had hope their class routine would lead to an easy morning for me.
But, back to my adventure subbing their class. According to the child in charge of moving the Weather Clip it was a sunny day. As soon as he picked up the card with a radiantly smiling sun on it, the entire class shouted “SUNNY!” I think they were supposed to wait for me to ask what type of weather we were having. We didn’t make it that far, but we almost did. The rest of the day was filled with more almosts. We made it to chapel but I almost lost a kid. He decided to go to the bathroom for ten minutes. We made it to art and I almost didn’t pick them back up. Just kidding. They ate all their food during snack time and almost listened to me while I read them a story. Recess was fun, they almost emptied the sandbox. And finally during free time the boys almost destroyed the classroom. All of these almosts caused us to be late for their parents to pick them up. Yet, without their routines I think I would’ve almost died.
Teaching similingual kids can be fun because they kind of say really cute things. They have huge imaginations and they smile a lot. But I was exhausted by the end of the day. My friends kept asking if I was sick. It’s hard when you teach a class of kids who are all off in their own worlds most of the time. But, hey, they’re just little kids and I don’t think they should have to grow up too fast. I just hope I don’t have to sub for them again. That was a lot of work.