Driving home this afternoon I was pretty pleased with myself. I left school at a decent hour and would have time to get the things I needed to get done– you know those things: lesson plan, score work and respond to student letters. I may even have enough time to write a blog post. It would be so productive. I already felt proud of myself for accomplishing so much even before I began.
Here’s what really happened. I walked in the door escaping the 102 degree heat outside. My living room was quiet and cool as Toby lazily woke from his nap to greet me. His wake-up yawn triggered my fatigue, and I thought, “I can be Toby. Just for a moment.” I lied on the couch wrapping my body around his. Not much of cuddler, he stood and stretched, yawning again to give me a good whiff of his kitty breath. That was the last thing I remember.
Forty minutes later I became aware of the microfiber material of our sofa. It was soft as it cradled my skin, and I didn’t want to move. It provided the comfort that such things can only provide for the very tired. After a summer of taking fruitless naps on the couch, this was heaven. And I was pretty resentful of the work that lay ahead of me. This is not good as it is only the third day of school. I haven’t even gotten into the full swing of things yet.
The first week of school is one of the most challenging and tiring weeks of the school year– rivaled only by the last week of school. For me, returning to work is a dramatic shift in the schedule. I wake up super early, I go to bed super early, I have to plan my lunches and work clothes, prepare everything the night before, commute, not see my husband as much, and give up my morning walks. Then at work I have to be “on”, prepared, organized, calm, kind, firm, enthusiastic as I meet new students and try to filter through their myriad personalities. It’s all about vigilance, setting expectations, and establishing routine. As much as I love teaching and meeting new students, it’s exhausting.
But my kids are full of surprises. One of my meanest looking and stonily silent boys is actually a sweetheart. Another who begged me in his letter to not make him read or present on account of his stutter and struggles with speaking English volunteered to go first in presenting his poster about himself today. One of my goth kids spoke with sensitivity about his view on life and how if you “judge a book by its cover without even being willing to glance at its table of contents, you lose on the whole story.” This made all of the girls go “ahhhh!” Another quiet boy recited his poetry…. again eliciting “ahhhhs!” from the girls. My history students are enthusiastic, even as I taught them note-taking strategies. One of them also quickly grasped how the early British colonies in America laid the foundation for the American Dream. Overall, besides my really loud and obnoxious boys, everything’s been going well. It is however, quite tiring, but it sure does make the microfiber feel so good.