Friday, May 28, 2010

Gimme a break!

St. Bill and Middle Daughter


Boogie Bear

I took some days off from the school house earlier this week to stay with my grandbabies while Middle Daughter and St. Bill went to Las Vegas. (St. Bill had work there. Middle Daughter had fun there.) I had to come back to work to recover. Don't get me wrong, my grandbabies are ADORABLE (I mean, just look at those little faces!), and I'm crazy about them, but cliche or not, I totally get why YOUNG people have babies! I am whooped! And I'm even more impressed with the kind of mama Middle Daughter is -- she does an awesome job with her babies. (I have to say, though, that, tired or not, spending that time with Boogie and Bella was exactly what I dreamed being "Jaja" would be like. They grinned and giggled and I melted. And I never got tired of hearing, "I love you, Jaja!")

Still, I'm glad to be back at Casa St. Michael with the saint, and I've even been glad to be back at work with my big "babies" for a couple of days before the holiday weekend starts. Nonetheless, as much as I love those "babies," too, if I can get everything done that's calling out for my attention, I'll be excited for the start of the summer break at the end of next week! (Lots of miles to travel, people to see, and projects to complete during my "vacation" months.) Thinking about the break in our schedules that we as teachers are so blessed to get reminded me of something I wrote a few years ago after an exchange on the subject with a student . . .

[NOTE: Name has been changed to protect the clueless.]

My first thought was, “I can’t believe he’s saying that! That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”

My second thought was, “Well, duh, it’s Austin talking – why am I surprised?”

My third thought? “I was wrong. It’s not exactly the dumbest thing I've ever heard – I’m sure Austin’s said things just as dumb before (in fact, I know he has). I just didn’t expect him to get back in the groove so fast.”

And what did this little cherub say? you ask. Well, this little angel had the nerve to say, in front of God and everybody, that teachers do not deserve vacations. Can you believe it? Well, if it were anyone but Austin, I would have to say, no, I can’t believe anyone would say such a thing. I guess I have to chalk it up to ignorance, and since it is my job to educate, perhaps I should explain to him – and to any other morons out there harboring such thoughts – exactly why we need our Summer Break (and any other breaks we might get).

Middle school teachers get paid to be on campus from 8:15 AM to 4:15 PM. The last few weeks before the summer hiatus, I am usually on campus on most days from 7:30 to 5:30. (I was up here for eleven hours over last weekend.) There have been many other days when I stayed until six or seven or eight, and many teachers here at school put in much longer hours than I do. (And, of course, this doesn’t include the time we all spend working on school projects at home.)

Actually, the more I think about it, there are probably no words to explain the toll good teaching takes on those who do it. How do you explain to someone who doesn’t want to understand what trying to do our jobs costs us personally – what it’s like to care intensely about kids you know are struggling through tough times at home; kids who have difficulty learning in a regular classroom setting but have no other alternatives; kids who suffer from hyperactivity and yet are not on adequate meds and who, therefore, disrupt everyone else’s learning and threaten your own sanity; kids who, for whatever reason just plain don’t care enough about themselves to care about anything else, least of all learning. And last, but definitely not least, what it takes out of a teacher to deal daily with one like Austin.

“No, that’s not a verb, Austin.”

“Why not?”

“Well, it doesn’t show action or state of being.”

“Why not? I don’t get it! This is stupid.”

Then there are the adults we deal with. Parents, administrators, sometimes even other teachers (all of which I definitely don’t have time to discuss here). And the paperwork? Lord help me – let’s not even go there.

If for no other reason, though, we need a break so that we can come back to school and realize that regardless of the lack of respect we get, regardless of the long hours we work, regardless of the general crap we deal with, we really do love our kids. (We even miss them when we’re away from them, though we might not realize it until we see them again in the hallway.)

Yep, we DO love our kids – even the clueless ones like Austin – and we want to be the very best for them, and that’s precisely why we need a break. (Just like parents of small children who need a getaway every once in a while!)

Grinnin' . . . and packin' up for the break!



  1. From one in education to another.....hang in there!!! Have a great holiday weekend.

  2. I'm up here in the Pacific Northwest clapping and cheering you on. YOU GO GIRL!! Yea!
    Love your story about Austin.
    School is out for me the end of June and I can't wait!
    ~deep breath~

  3. love it Muzzy!! hope you will have great time with your Momma bear!! You must be on speakin' tour or something with all that but maybe just visitin' kin folk.

    You deserve the summer respit and I'm so very thankful for teachers like you for Jr. High kiddos!! xox, DM*