A Teacher's Life...and Other Oxymorons

My feet ache, my laundry is piling up, and there are notebook fringies stuck in my living room carpet.

School has officially started.

Class begins at 7:30am in my district, which means that I have to be there at 7:00. Anyone who has taught knows that half an hour is simply not enough time to prepare your room or your mental health for dealing with nearly 200 teenagers. So, I arrive at 6:30am. That means I leave my house between 5:30 and 6:00. It takes me an hour to get ready...so I'll let you do the math for my wake-up time. It hurts me too much to say it. By the time I crawl back into my house at 6:00pm, I barely have the energy to change into my pajamas, much less eat, clean, correct papers, or talk to people. But you see, I don't mind not eating much--I've lost a lot of weight in the past six months as a result--and I'm okay with a fine layer of dust over everything in my house--I'm allergy free--and most of all, I really don't care when they get their papers back. It's this last one that causes problems. Because it turns out, I do care that I don't get to talk to people.

For the past two years, I've disappeared on my friends during the school year. I talk exclusively to my students and colleagues, and that's okay, because I enjoy my students and my colleagues. My Happy Corner at school (that is the official name of the four rooms near where I teach because...well, we are a hoot) keeps me entertained with adult conversation, and my students make fart jokes. It's a delicate balance, but it worked. For a while.

This summer, however, I rediscovered the beauty of a conversation that has nothing to do with thesis writing strategies, independent reading theory, grammar or...well...fart jokes. I relearned the beauty of just sitting with a friend. Of harmless gossip (to be fair, work does provide a fair amount of this). Of analyzing the previous night's mindless reality TV show. Of laughing deeply and without worrying who might walk by. I relearned the comfort a friend can offer simply because she's known you for twelve years, and the smile an email from a good friend living far away can bring in the middle of a bad day. I remembered that your mom will always respond to an email, no matter how banal it was, and that taunting your teenage cousins at a wedding via text is hilarious. I remembered that sometimes, the best nights are spent in the company of your cousins, dancing to "Bad Romance" and behaving far too irresponsibly for your age (alcohol helps with this last one). In short, I learned that I do need people. I'm just trying to figure out how to make that happen.

One day I'll figure it out. I'm getting better. Email is a lifesaver, and texting helps, though I should probably stop doing it while I merge onto I-94 during rush-hour (we were talking about teacher websites!). It's not an easy balance to strike, and some days I fail. More than once I've gone to bed knowing I didn't talk to someone I should have that day, or that I let a promise slip away unfulfilled. I've cobbled together lesson plans because I just had to take a phone call or visit with someone. My friends and family know I'm doing my best, though the admonitions do roll in occasionally. I've been bribed with fresh green beans and threatened with a Swedish Bounty Hunter named Sven. Both worked.

But this is nine months of my year. Nine months of getting up in the dark and not enough sleep. Nine months of printer excuses and "I forgot my book." Nine months of IEP meetings, staff meetings, department meetings, and laughing after school with my colleagues. Nine months of missing my friends and family, waiting for summer when I can see them again. It's only just starting.

See you cats on the other side.


Anonymous said…
YOU WERE DRIVING! You need to tell me these things! And I would have to contradict you on the green beans, you were tempted but you didn't show up at my door. They are very delicious and I still have some left. . .

Popular posts from this blog

Giving Up Gatsby

The Stigma of Messiness or Yes I Do Have Anxiety Flashcards

Moving Mountains and Burning Bridges: The Power of Words