The August Itch

Lately I’ve been feeling like a junkie. I’m going through withdrawls especially after detoxing for the last 5 months. I’ve got the August Itch – anxiety, nervousness, the sweats, trouble sleeping. I need my poison. I need to get back to my classroom.

Every August around this time, I look forward to preparing for a new school year. It’s like New Year’s Eve and the first day of school is one big party. The smell of new crayons, sharpened pencils, freshly waxed floors, brightly decorated walls, and scared new faces. It’s my high.

This year is different. There’s no direction. No leadership. No answers. It is August 25th and yet we have no plan. Dates are pushed back and changed all to often, one day it’s safe, the other day it’s not. Some say they’re cleaning the schools, although others would beg to differ. Teachers, students, and families are terribly confused. It’s a complete wait and see game. “We will tell you the night before when to show up and tell you what to do and how to do it. By the way, here’s a 30 day supply of PPE. And if you don’t like it, you can start writing your resignation letter now.”

True Story. But let’s not get too political here. It’s for the kids.

If any one knows teachers, this is not the way we work. We like to plan ahead, WAY ahead. Planners and organizers, we can’t get enough of them. Name tags written out with fresh new sharpies, class lists studied, seating charts mapped out like a football play book. Working tiredlessly through the nights preceding the first week of school, mastering plans and ice breakers so they roll out seamlessly. But, it’s understandable, we need to be flexible, right?

I’m stuck in limbo. Do I go in to set up, or will I be bringing my classroom home? How many kids will I have? Who will be learning virtually and who will be in my presence, if there’s even an in person option? Do I buy school supplies or do I stock up on more leggings? I got the itch real bad. I miss my colleagues, I miss my classroom, I miss performing everyday, but mostly I miss our kids. The last I stepped into my classroom was sometime in April to grab a few materials. It was like time stood still, tumble weeds rolled around like an old western film. It hurt my heart to be there. I left with a glimmer of hope knowing I’d be back in no time. Nope, no shot.

I just want to go in. Let me at it! Give me my drug, I want it, I need it. Let’s get this party started. Toss the computers! Immerse them in books, drill them with math facts, write some poetry, play jumprope at recess. Give them a damn hug. Whether we are distance learning or going back into the classroom, I’m going in full force, better, and stronger than ever. I will overdose on school if I need to.

145 Days

Worst. Year. Ever.

145 Days. It’s been 145 days since March 13th. That is almost a whole school year. March 13th, preparing my students for the worst but hoping for the best, because I knew it was coming. My principal, at the school I teach in, begins his announcement over the speaker. He never makes announcements unless it’s really important. Cue. “Boys and girls, before you leave today, please take all your personal belongings home with you. Your teacher will give you your computer to take home. We will not be returning to school at least for a couple of weeks.” Boom, and just like that chaos erupted. Like during the Cold War when the sirens went off and it was a “duck and cover” drill or something. A couple of weeks led to a couple of months. A couple of months led to the rest of the school year. All of us diligently planning, learning as we go, and surviving.

Mom’s Diner Open 24/7

145 days of being home with my 2 girls and a dog. 145 days of worry. 145 days of refereeing. 145 days of making macaroni and cheese and ramen noodles (which we never even had a package of ramen in this house up until 145 days ago). 145 days of Roblox. 145 days of explaining to my kids why they might not be going back to school. 145 days of yelling at them to pick their wet towels up off the floor. 145 days of letting the dog in and out 100 times a day. 145 days of limiting our adventures outside the home. 145 days of disrupted routine. 145 days of grocery bills and utilities rising. 145 days explaining to my husband how my day went. 145 days without any normalcy.

But I need to thank COVID at least for one thing. I need to thank COVID for those 145 days where I literally witnessed my children grow. 145 days of hearing their laughter. 145 of being their personal teacher. 145 days of more movie nights. 145 days of slime making and crafting. I am taking the bad with the good and I will always appreciate these 145 days of time well spent. I learned a lot through these 145 days. I learned to have patience. I learned I am actually less stressed. I learned a lot about my kids and who they are. And a lot about myself.

At the start of my career, I was a substitute teacher working on my Masters degree in Special Education, working my ass off to a get a full time teaching position, with benefits. In the meantime, my children were babies. I had to wait tables to supplement the income, because subbing alone wasn’t cutting it. I lost a lot of time with my babies. Now my girls are 8 and 10, not babies anymore, and granted, the days are far from easy around here, but I’m so glad to be making up for that lost time. So thank you COVID for the 145 days.

We must have killed dozens of masks to pass the time.