Yesterday, we had our Purim carnival at school, each classroom decorated and hosting a games booth hand-made by students. Children could wander from room to room, trying out the brainteasers, fortune tellers, and human whack-a-mole (super cute video of a kindergartner bopping 6th graders’ exposed noggins). Music blared in the hallways, the chatter of kids egging each other on or roasting each others’ missed foozball shots.
And I sat in the center of it all with a large mug of tea, a gorgeous view out my classroom window, and the sounds of water-drippy spa meditation music. Assorted pillows lined the back cabinets where students whispered gently or just reclined with eyes closed, others sat at desks coloring the mandalas I’d printed out, or softly played a game of cards.
I had called, “The Quiet Room.”
At my last school, I had learned the hard way that carnival days can be really frying for my nervous system. I fall directly between intro- and extro-vert on most personality scales, and while I love a good carnival, amusement park, or festival, I learned that 2 hours of hyper-stimulation can wear me down to the bone — and I don’t bounce back quickly.
Therefore, last year, in my second year at that school, I volunteered to help out in The Quiet Room. This room was an established zone staffed by a long-time teacher who’d earned, through her 30+year tenure, the right to staff The Quiet Room on chaos days. Buuut, couldn’t she use a helper, in case she wanted to take a break, go to the bathroom…?
And thus, I inserted myself into the Quiet Room and my 2nd Purim carnival day was even as a still pond.
When it came time this year to volunteer to man different booths or rooms or stands… I knew it was my chance. They didn’t have a Quiet Room at my new school! The staff meeting was continuing on, I didn’t have a role yet, I raised my hand.
“What about having a quiet room for students who need a break?”
“Sure, that’s a great idea.”
And then, wouldn’t you know, all the other teachers began shouting, Ha! I’ll run the quiet room! Yeah, sounds great — can I do it?
I pounced back. Facetious or not, no one was taking this room from me! “It was my idea! I get to man it!” I shouted them down. And so it was sealed.
When yesterday morning, during the melee, the big boss strode into my classroom to see what The Quiet Room was all about and sat nearby to make whispered conversation with me, she asked, “This was your idea?”
And for an instant, I froze inside. I felt a little embarrassed, a little shy, to own my idea, especially knowing it was a good one. My heartrate quickened as thoughts of hedging leapt forward to reply something like, “Well, the other teachers thought it was a good idea” or “Yeah, kinda.”
Yet, I didn’t respond that way. I didn’t diminish my accomplishment; I didn’t allow myself to shy away from the spotlight of my boss’ opinion.
I rested calmly with my enormous mug warming my hands, took half a breath, and replied, “Yes.”