Nice guy that he is, the MoH gently reminded me that I had carpool responsibilities this morning. It’s Tuesday already, and not Monday, so perhaps I was in a Monday frame of mind. The RT and I slunk to the car, I put ‘er in reverse and sat outside The Princess’ house for a few minutes until she graced us with her flowery scented presence. “Good morning,” I began, as usual, attempting to present an image of one who, although wearing pajamas and a rank sweatshirt, was chipper and ready to take the week by the horns. “How was your weekend?”
“Ohmygodyesterdaywasthemostbeautifulday,” she trilled, her eyes wide as I sneaked a look in the rear view mirror. “We went to the beach and everything was just perfect and you know how there are little sand places between the rocks? Well the four of us fit right in there, and well, it’s kind of a coveted location, so when we were ready to leave people were right there ready to take our spot,” she continued, rapt in her recollection of what I remembered was a pleasant day, but not that special. Oh, that’s right. I went outside late in the afternoon to pretend like I was going to finish my book, and ended up lazing in the sun, nodding off occasionally to make up for two late nights in a row. “Only 15 days of school left,” she finished, the non sequitur ending her atypical morning liveliness.
Only fifteen days left. That’s always significant if you are in any way connected to school: you’re a student; your kids are in school; or, if like me, an erstwhile educator who recognized that the countdown to summer posted on the board would get you some points from your students, whether my principal liked it or not — thinking it “negative.” Uhhhh…what rock did she crawl out from under? Doesn’t everyone look forward to summer? Why act like that isn’t the case? Ahhh….summer. The Beach Boys and “No more homework, no more books.
No more teachers’ ‘dirty looks'” or whatever the words of that schoolyard chant are. Vacation. Ten. Whole. Weeks. Of sleeping in. Of lazing around the house. Of re-runs on television and sweet oblivion.
It’s a bit strange now since I am only marginally connected to this annual ritual that has been a part of my life in some way for about 40 years. Yes — I know. Longer than some of you have been alive. Through my childhood and college years, my two older boys’ school years, my re-entry to college, and then finally my career in education. Nearly my entire life has been filled with the peculiar ebb and flow of time related to school years. The RT is of course still connected, and will be for many years even after we pack him up kicking and screaming, and throw him on a train and off to college.
It was 20 years ago that I was beginning my career as a teacher. It’s pretty frightening how quickly 20 years can fly by. In 1987, I was ready to take on my first class of Third Graders, and finally do what I had always longed to do: teach. It was exhilarating after waiting so long. From the time I was in junior high, school counselors had gently tried to talk me out of the profession. Really. I’ve tried to remember the details of those conversations, but it was so long ago, it’s difficult. Besides, do adolescents really listen the way we want and need them to when we are gifting them with our experienced advice? Do pigs fly? Does a chicken have lips? Like I said — difficult. And now I don’t need the details, because I recognize their quiet words as something designed to open different worlds to a young person — one more exotic, more glamorous, and most likely, less practical. Perhaps they were at a point where they imagined something different for themselves, so that yearning influenced their words to me.
Regardless, I heeded their advice, and went off to college declaring my major to be Family Studies and Consumer Sciences in order to become a Therapeutic Dietitian. Why this? I had to choose a different, but still practical something to replace my dream of wanting to become a teacher, and I had read something in Time magazine about careers in the health industry, so that made sense. Why not? Are hospitals and schools all that different? Um…never mind. You don’t even want to know what I think about that one.
I never became a dietitian. In fact, I changed my major to Library Science because I really did want to be involved in education on some level. And there were very few jobs available for teachers then, so why not be a Librarian? I loved books, after all, and if I couldn’t be a teacher, I could hover in their vicinity. But I ended up leaving school.
The part time job I had was paying more than what first year teachers made, so it was easy to leave the books and the routines to get married and have two boys. Easy until I felt my brain begin to rot with inactivity. So I finally found myself back in college to pick up where I left off with two young children in tow, the same part time job, and an ex-husband left somewhere in the dust — an unfortunate casualty of someone who should have stayed the school course to begin with. But my two boys were the silver lining of that detour, and they are worth it.
Completing a degree and a credentialing program with kids in tow was crazy on several levels, but lots of people do it today. What was gruelling was subjecting my kids to the insane rigors of a new teaching assignment in an inner city school, and master’s degree work all at the same time. That’s why I have such a high regard for the MoH. He helped all three of us survive those years.
Twenty years. Don’t blink. You may miss them. Now, I’ll have to live vicariously through the RT’s last few days of school wondering if he’s as ecstatic as I would be if I was still counting down to summer.
I know. I’ll post it on the fridge.