Saturday, April 6, 2024

bubble up

Monday I was a substitute in the sweetest little Kindergarten room. I arrived early, and reviewed the plans for the day, which included, "Bubble Up, Bubble Down."

Hmmm...that is not a term in my daily vernacular, so I knocked on a neighboring Teacher's door to inquire. Turns out, it's sharing a high and a low. After the students arrived, we sat around the brightly colored, carpeted circle while they shared their own highs and lows from the previous weekend. Many kids had multiple highs. Most kids didn't even have any lows that they could remember. Sure they might tattle, and don't always listen- but I think for the most part, Kindergartners are optimists and intuitively focus on the good.

Turns out you can learn a lot from a 5 year old. 

Life’s greatest lessons are never learned as the warm sunshine hits your face, lying on a cushioned lounge chair while staring at the Caribbean Ocean. Knowledge is usually tied to hurt, to loss, to transition, to "its complicated"- to pain. On top of that, the knowledge isn’t a guarantee- I’ve met plenty of people who just turn bitter. 

At this point in life- I think most have us have earned the right to be bitter. (Can I get an amen?) But why stay there? And at what cost? I'll start out bitter, but I’ll be damned if I stay there. I won’t let my joy be a victim to any circumstance. If the shit has to hit the fan, you better believe I will work to find its purpose in my life. We must cultivate more Bubble Ups to counteract the downs.

Sometimes it’s important to take inventory and see what we need to let go of.

Friday morning was a rough one for Grey. He never loves going to school, but he begged not to go. School is closed! He announced. He cried as he got dressed for the day. As we parked and walked up, tears were streaming down his face, and slowly plopping onto the pavement. He’s not usually dramatic, and he doesn’t cry real tears for attention. My heart ached as I tried to validate his sadness while also talking about things we have over the weekend to look forward to. I said my goodbye as one of his para’s walked him into the building. Then I heard him explode into even bigger tears. I froze for a minute. I wanted to run in and grab him- take him home for a mental health day. I wanted to stop the bleeding on his source of pain. Parenting can be tricky. Sometimes it is our job to take away pain. But sometimes it’s vital that they endure life experiences- even the not so shiny ones. It’s truly the only way to learn the skills we need to succeed, and the skills we need to be a good, kind, happy person. There is a term called, "learned helplessness," and can be applied to adults doing things for a child that developmentally- the child can do on their own. We deprive them the chance to learn how to live functional, independent lives if we don't let them fail- if we don't let them experience pain.

I remember constant tears as Grey’s autism became more apparent in his two year old self. There were times it frustrated me, and times it broke my heart. A simple walk down the street would cause tears as he tried to run into traffic, and refused to hold my hand. 

There were so many therapy appointments he sobbed through. But he also gained skills- communication skills, self-regulation skills, self advocacy skills. If I never allowed him to feel pain- he would not have learned what he needed to, I would fail as a parent. First of all- it’s unrealistic, part of being alive is pain. Secondly, taking away the pain can also be taking away the learning.

This is true regardless of age or abilities. If you are in a painful moment, be willing to ask, "What are you here to teach me?" It will change your perspective.

I’m loving substitute teaching. Something about being in school is healing little kid me in ways I didn’t know were broken. The fact that my boys are an included part of a school community feels like a dream come true after being deprived for so long. I couldn't help but look at it and think- whatever is going on there is magic and I want to be a part of it. So here I am.

Kindergarteners draw me pictures and make me feel like a rock star. HI MRS. KELLY! They holler when they see me in their school again and I just MELT. Middle schoolers are helping me work on my fear of confrontation skills. (Because apparently- “Can you guys keep it down please?”- does not in fact - quiet a room.) I’m the type of person who can get her hair done, hate it, say- I LOVE IT! And tip 20% and go home and cry. So I’m learning to be more direct and assertive. Every time I am- I get a high from it. 

The week began and ended with gratitude. On Friday afternoon I worked in a 5th Grade classroom. As one student was packing up for the day, he sang,

Thank You for sunshine

Thank You for rain

Thank You for joy

Thank You for pain

Another student stopped him- Thank you for PAIN?! Why would we say thankful for pain?!

"OHMYGOSH!" I said, "YES YES YES! I'm writing about this very thing right now! Of course we don't want pain in the moment, but if we let it, it always teaches us something important." 

The students looked at me in awe. Just kidding! They stared at me blankly. HA! That's ok, one day they will get it too. 

And here's a Bubble Up I want to share. Meeting this awesome Teacher here. Turns out she has a child with Super Powers and she found our page back when we were in California, when she needed it most. I've recently worked in her school, and when she told me, she made my whole day. The world is so much more connected than we realize. Sometimes your pain can connect you to other people in the best possible way. (I am lucky that what started out as a way to share my pain connected me to you Carmen❤️❤️❤️).

What about you? What Bubble Up can you share with the rest of the class?

So Much Love,



  1. ❤️ You were definitely my Friday bubble up!

  2. Sometimes it's hard to find positivity, but there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. And if I find I am struggling, I remind myself - this too shall pass. Love your posts. Love your heart.

  3. ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Beautiful- I really needed your wisdom today 💕

  5. you are amazing!! I adore you!! keep going Girl!