Today is the 57th and final day of what has been a mercilessly long stretch of school days without a break.
Now those of you loyal readers out there who are not in the teaching profession (all two of you) please allow me to state my case before you shout in your best Soup Nazi voice “No Pity For You”!
It goes like this: Catholic schools actually recognize the holiday of Easter. Therefore, our “Spring Break” is actually “Easter Break” and begins the day before Holy Thursday (a.k.a. – tomorrow). So while the rest of the state had Spring break 3 weeks ago, the Parochial schools were still in session, scorning the people who were already on break (although I have to admit, it was REALLY nice not having to fight any traffic for that week!)
And so weeks turned to months and here we are, finally sprung from what was increasingly becoming, a zoo.
It’s not that I mind working. Oh no, don’t think that about me, please. I work on holidays. I work on weekends. I stay late at work or come home to do more work. If my job consisted of going in, doing my work and leaving, I don’t think 57 days would have fazed me or any of my other coworkers one bit. No it’s not the work at all.
It’s the monsters.
Oops, I’m sorry, I mean dear, sweet children.
Somewhere around the 6th week of this marathon, they hit a wall. Breaking through the wall with as much force of energy as they could collectively summon, they went tumbling. It was all downhill from there.
There were fights. Fist fights actually. Kids who were normally angelic and adorable were leaving their halos at home and starting brawls out of the blue. Kids who have never owned a halo in their entire lives started sprouting horns before my very eyes. For weeks it was like a full force full moon day in and day out, never waxing or waning. There seemed to be no end in sight. The dress code went out the window. One morning I wrote uniform infraction notices to half of my homeroom. In a whirlwind of papers I started furiously writing disciplinary notices as well. My usual average of 6-7 slips per week increased to 6-7 slips per day. They needed a break and they were making me insane. And before you think it was just my inexperience as a teacher, I’ll note that even the most experienced of the bunch were going gray at the mere sight of small children.
Around the 9th week of this madness the deafening noise and chaotic behavior ceased. “Thank God” I thought to myself one Monday morning when they came in quietly, sat down, put their things away and waited for instructions. “Finally, we are back to normal!” I thought foolishly. “Please take out your textbooks and turn to page 150,” I requested.
No one moved.
“Turn to 150, guys” I said again.
“Do we have to?” one of them whined.
They had mentally checked out. Great. I’d spent weeks trying to calm them down and now they were completely out of it. I struggled to get them to accomplish even the most minor task. When I assigned homework you’d have thought I was ordering them to their death.
So this week was a short one. “Finally here!” I thought Monday morning when getting out of bed. “They can certainly get through these last 2 ½ days.” But I was proven wrong again.
Monday there was mutiny. Two 12 year old boys cried for no reason. Seven out of eight students in one class sat clutching their heads with the pain of a headache. I sent them down one by one to the office. It felt like a hospital ward. “Come on guys, lets get through this chapter and I’ll let you use the computers for the last 10 minutes of class.”
Shit. My greatest reward now carries no weight. I’m doomed.
“Let us go to sleep, pleeeeease!” They begged. Right. Like I can do that.
Today was madness but it was half day madness which means that no matter what it’s all over quickly. The teachers creamed the students in the Teacher vs. Students Softball game and the morning flew by. Phew!
So as I type this I know what you’re saying, and you know what? You’re right. I am a teacher. I do get Spring Break, Winter Break and a paid summer vacation. I work from 7:30 to 3:30 (theoretically). I get free hugs, prized paintings and Christmas presents. And I work damn hard for my money. But I’m on vacation right now and I’ve earned every last second of it! So I’ll be here, sitting by the pool, sleeping in late, watching TV and reading a good book…
… and missing the little boogers all the way until I see them again.