I realized I never directly mentioned on this little blog o’ mine that for 3 months this year I found myself in a situation so foreign to anything I ever expected that I think I was scared to raise my hand and say it out loud. But the final bell rang, and I passed.
I stepped in for my friend Becca to cover her 3-month maternity leave. Teach—I’ve done it before. Work with high schoolers—done that, too. But 4 classes of Culinary Arts and 1 of Interior Design sounded like a test I was set up to fail.
A Culinary Arts teacher?! The girl who survived college on mac & cheese, Little Caesars and the graciousness of her roommates to let her grub down on their extras. Who finds cooking for another person to be one of the most stressful adjustments of marriage. And who dreads the day when she’s asked to bring a covered dish to a church potluck.
But I’m also the girl who had 3 very cute aprons longing to be used and abused, so, off I went on a new adventure that landed me in a classroom with 4 kitchens and 70 kids (total, not at a time!).
I quickly discovered the news that would kindly give me confidence for the weeks to follow—because I know how to measure flour, preheat an oven and follow a recipe, I knew more than they did. So maybe I could teach them something? We made our way through quick breads and cake decorating, soups and salads, casseroles and pizzas. I think I was able to answer all questions successfully, except why you’re not supposed to wash a sieve; I’m still working on that.
And of course I learned a few things, too. Salt is cheap, butter is not. Grocery shopping with the school’s money is way more fun than with your own. Boys walking the halls in cowboy boots sound astonishingly similar to a lady in high heels. No matter how much a youth at church loves you, they are still a little too cool to talk to you at school sometimes. There’s a clothing boutique called Giddy Up Glamour, it’s possible to dislike every single vegetable, and no matter how strong my urge to drop it like it’s hot when the pep rally music begins, it is possible to resist…multiple times.
High schoolers are their own kind. At any point in the day I can look around the room and find multiple students taking pictures of themselves (always accompanied with a peace sign and kiss face). Their conversations include some of the most vulgar topics to have ever fallen on my ears. Complaints are as deafening as sirens, cruelty is alive and thriving, and the attitude that can come from such a tiny body is downright shocking.
And then there are days like this when all you want to do is lay in bed and let your black tears mingle on the pillow. No time for complaints, attitude or cruelty—no time for them. But they show up that day, too, with no time for any of that either. Their conversations are different, full of concern and curiosity. Because even though most days they seem like an alien species, they are still part of humanity. And on days like these when they surprise you, reassure you and teach you, you find your tears have turned into hope.
I admittedly was a little shaky at first, but I ended up loving the assignment! And according to the thank you cards Becca had them write me, they thought I was alright, too. I’m glad I passed, because I’ve officially been hired to teach Spanish at the same high school. So three cheers for teaching a subject I know a little something about, full-time employment, and a salary!