Once upon a time there was a 7th grade English and drama teacher in Philadelphia. Every day she woke up at dawn and hung out with 12 year old delightful nerds all day. She loved it. She was also very sleepy. One day, dahling hubs graduated from dental school and the two moved to Portland, Oregon, the happiest place on earth (it’s nice here). They got a house with a two car garage and WAY TOO MANY rooms to furnish (can we say house poor?). Since they loved each other very much as your mother always said, they also decided to have a human child. Because of this, she decided to only work part time and thus begins our story.
Today is the first day of school for everyone else except me. Well, clearly some people besides me don’t go to school, but most people I know do. And this is my first year in a GENERATION (if you count preschool) that I haven’t gone to the first day of school.
Things I don’t miss on the first day of school:
1. Dressing myself: for some reason this was harder as a teacher than a student. You want to dress up for the other teachers so you look nice and they will talk about you behind your back in a positive way. Teachers are all mean girls…even…nay, especially the dude teachers. You want them on your side. I inevitably under dress in every way except shoes. When it comes to shoes I always manage to wear ones that hurt so terribly I spend the afternoon barefoot, picking up allllll the germs off my classroom floor.
2. Being awake: the first day of summer, as a kid or adult, I always slept craaaazy late. Like 14 hours. Then, it was a slow progression of slothiness until the day before you have to go back to school. My mom always made me get up progressively earlier in the weeks before back to school, but as an adult, I don’t have to do what anyone says! So the first day back, I was always up about four to five hours before usual, barely dressed, and decaffeinated (no coffee breath the first day!).
3. Boredom: kids, here’s a secret, when you have days off for “inservice,” it means your teachers have to go to school and learn how to be better teachers. They DO NOT prefer this to actually teaching you. Turns out, they actually like teaching you. They certainly don’t do it for the money. The first few days back at school for teachers is ALL DAY INSERVICE. I have literally fallen asleep during one of these. And it happened to be my first year when I had not only the normal first day sleep deprivation, but, as an added bonus, had just come back from a Vegas vacation. In Vegas, nothing starts until 9pm and nothing starts back up again until after noon. So I was on west coast + vacation sleep schedule on crack. Also, at this inservice, I was sitting directly behind my principal. It was brutal.
4. The crippling fear: I still am managing to have back to school nightmares this week even though I know I’m not back at school. You know the ones: you’re unprepared for class, everyone else knows what’s going on, you’re late, and you’re not wearing pants. Those jitters you got the first day of kindergarten never go away…until this morning as I watched BBC well past 9am.
5. The temperature fluctuations. Because schools are run by THE GOVERNMENT, they have no money for things like climate control. Thus, the main office is always FREEZING because it houses the only air conditioner in the school. Anywhere else you go is DISGUSTINGLY BALMY. This is another reason why dressing oneself is difficult.
Things I will miss:
1. Everything else. Damn it…I liked teaching. I like other teachers…I like being a mean girl about so and so’s weird tan line (in between neck fat folds…I don’t want to be cruel, but that’s the reason I wear sunscreen). I like my nerds. I like having a CAPTIVE AUDIENCE (they all laugh at your jokes on the first day. It’s fear laughter, but I’ll take it). I like doing plays. I like bitching about how early I wake up. I like knowing that, even if my day was horrible, I was at least attempting to do something good with myself. FOR THE CHILDREN.
But here’s the thing:
Every year, kids with no filter ask me, “DO YOU HAVE KIDS?” “No.” I reply. “WHY NOT?” They ask. “I have you.” I reply. They roll their eyes or fake an “awww.” But I mean it. I could not have done my job last year and also had a kid. Case and point: at the end of the year, the Doctor’s car, a 1998 Oldsmobile Aurora, died. This was fine as we were not going to take it with us back to Oregon. But it meant that he came to pick me up from school most days. In the car, he’d ask, “How was your day, dear?” and I’d grunt, my forehead against the window, somehow suddenly dying of hunger and desperately needing to pee (teacher bladder only turns on outside of the school building). I was literally unable to muster the energy to speak after being surrounded by energetic geniuses for the last ten hours. I needed at least half an hour, a snack, and some television before I’d suddenly come to life, spouting out, “TODAY TWO KIDS GOT INTO A SINGING FIGHT BETWEEN PHANTOM AND LES MIS AND LES MIS WON!” The Doctor by this time would have moved on, leaving me for dead, and no longer wanted to hear about my day. That’s because he’s quite nearly adult-like. A child needs your attention…NOW. And it’s always NOW.
So I decided to have one kid that I was in charge of all day every day instead of 100 that I see for an hour at a time. And that kid is currently the size of a plum and will only let me eat pudding today. Have I made a huge mistake? No. I am living the American Dream: house, kid, Doctor, lawn. I am literally in my fuzzy bathrobe right now doing laundry. I have time to write. And read.
But I miss my nerds today.