My grandma, my mom, and three of my aunts all worked (or are currently working) as teachers. I hear that there are people who believe that teachers are lazy, but I did not grow up among them.
But I did work in a job where I got 10 days of vacation, so I understand the frustration that some people have at the amount of time off that we get. When I worked at that job and Mike was off in the summers, it was all I could do not to come home and punch him. (We made some changes in our lifestyle so that our marriage could survive.)
What I did not understand at that point was that, because those breaks are scheduled in, teachers pay for them beforehand. You know how hard it is to work before a vacation? Multiply that by 650 middle school students, stir in some spring fever and the fact that we didn’t get any snow days, and turn off the air conditioning. Don’t forget to figure in the students who are apprehensive about being home for over a week because they don’t have a great situation and who may or may not have anything to eat when school is out. Carry the one: that math works out to short attention spans and short fuses all around. Every year, I aim to sprint into spring break. And every year I remember, too late, that it’s really more like collapsing. I love my students and I work with amazing teachers, but all of us need a break from each other.
This year, Mike and I were especially lucky that we were able to visit my aunt and uncle in Florida for spring break. Atticus got his first plane ride, floated in the pool, and picked a lemon. We ate seafood and fresh tomatoes. We shopped for dresses for my brother’s wedding. I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. We rested up and relished what I thought of as my fermata. It’s been a long time since my piano lessons, so perhaps that is not the appropriate term. I just love the word: this short break and then we will push on through to the end.
It is hard, sometimes, to see the difference between my life and the lives of my students. We are lucky, and I am grateful. The vacation and the gratitude, together, are what is saving my life this week.
What is saving your life?