Kate Motaung

Things I Didn’t Expect to Learn from Running a Marathon

My apologies to my FMF friends. I only had four lessons typed up at the end of my five minutes, but I kept on writing.  I won’t deny that I like unusual challenges and have a quirky sense of humor. So you won’t wonder at one of my choices for ‘fifty fun things to do in my fiftieth year’—run a marathon. I expect the majority of the population wouldn’t classify running for 26.2 miles as ‘fun.’ After completing my first…

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A Car, a Truck, and a Lesson in Truth

The Scenario The truth? I feel a little sheepish and petty tonight. It all started when I realized that tomorrow we’ll have our last assembly of the school year. Which means that I had forgotten to print out the certificates for reading goals. I generated the certificates and left them to print while I checked our cupboards for supplies. Each student that earns a certificate gets invited to our house for a banana split after lunch. And the one black…

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I’m a Stand-in Mom for Other Mothers

A Stand-in Mom for Other Mothers Before I married, I used to think I wanted to marry a man with the last name of Baker and have 13 children. Instead, I married a man named Ojeda and we decided early on that as teachers, we could only afford two children. These days my refrigerator holds certificates and graduation announcements from my kids from other mothers. After teaching for close to 30 years, I have a lot of children. Sure, Pedro…

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The Darker Side of Should: When to Eliminate it

The Friendly ‘Should’ I used to use the word ‘should’ all the time. It felt benign and friendly. “You should put your toys away before supper time,” always sounded kinder than, “Put away your toys before supper.” Telling someone what they ‘should’ do sounded so much nicer than telling them what to do. It allowed me to hide my bossy nature from the world (or maybe just deny that I HAVE a bossy side). And then our daughter entered the…

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The Rest of the Story: More Adventures Await

More Trouble and Destination Disappointment There’s more to last week’s story about my misguided adventure with a busload of students. After negotiating through an additional seven miles of bumpy dirt road, we came to a water crossing within sight of a paved road. This time, I stopped the bus and the boys hopped off and built up the banks of the road with more rocks BEFORE I attempted to drive over. When we finally turned onto a paved road, the…

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The Simple Antidote to Not Enough: Praise

Feeling Like I’m Not Enough I wander along the road in the desert, feeling off-kilter and slightly out-of-sorts. Maybe my feelings of discontent come from wondering if I have enough. Will I have enough time to fit everything into the day, enough money to pay my taxes, and enough patience with my spring-fever-filled students? I long for assurance that I will make it through this quarter, that I will have enough to meet my needs, that the hummingbirds will actually return,…

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How Do YOU Define Christian?

Doing Research in the Age of Information Leading high school students through the arduous process of writing a research paper leaves me feeling exhausted. Since the advent of the Internet, Google, Wikipedia, and social media, kids define cutting and pasting content from other sources as ‘research.’ I beg to differ. And so we do things the old-fashioned-sort-of-technologically-advanced way in my classes. The students make photocopies of everything they plan on using that comes from a book. They print out web…

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When Someone Grieves, Offer an Embrace

The Passing of a Family Friend I wanted to reach through the phone line and embrace my daughter. Instead, I texted her back and tried to concentrate on reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my freshman class. I kept losing my place and glancing at my phone. Not professional behavior, I know. But when your daughter texts you that her beloved German Shepherd has bladder cancer and the vet sees no hope, you do what needs to…

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When it’s OK to Call Your Kids a Friend

Why DID We Have Kids? “Mom, why did you and Dad have kids?” Sarah asked a few years ago. “Because we knew that when you guys became adults we’d have two awesome friends.” I quipped. “But didn’t you tell us that we couldn’t be friends?” Sarah reminded me. “No. We said we couldn’t be friends until you’re 18 and out of high school.” “Oh, yeah,” she said. “Kids need boundaries and mentoring. They don’t need the burden of having an…

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Being Half Vegetarian in a World of Abandonment

Half Vegetarian For some reason, Pedro is discussing meat eating and vegetarianism with students while he patrols the playground after lunch. As I walk by on my way to my next class, I overhear a youngster declare, “I’m the only vegetarian in my family!” “Really?” Pedro asks. “Everyone else eats meat?” “Everyone but me!” the second grader declares. “Guess what, Mr. Ojeda?” a third grader asks. “I’m half vegetarian!” “Really!” Pedro exclaims. The bell rings and I hurry to unlock…

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