I am making a list of all the things I think might be possible and are probably necessary before summer break is over and I return to my classroom. I mentally cataloged all the little things that are so wonderful in the summer that tend to not happen during the school year. I get a little nostalgic as July comes to an end. Here’s what I love and will miss most about summer.
- My kid is the most important kid in my life. Spouses and children of teachers reap excellent benefits and make countless sacrifices. People ask me why I chose to only have one child and the very real answer is that for 10 months out of the year, other people’s children get much more of my attention than my own. I am helping to raise hundreds of other people’s children and in the summer it is so easy to make my son the center of my attention. In a week I will begin strategically planning my days so he gets at least an hour of my undivided attention and we get to read together before bed.
- I get to make breakfast for my husband. Summer is a wonderful chance to make sure my best friend eats a great breakfast. I’ve always been much more of a brunch lover than a breakfast eater and summer allows us to share many more meals together. During the school year, I am usually out the door before 7 a.m. and often on a sparsely fed stomach. I have time to make sure my kid gets breakfast before we go, but I miss the satisfaction of everyone eating breakfast together.
- I read guilt-free for fun. When you work 60 hours per week (and I usually do), it is so hard not to pick up a novel or a “cheeseburger book” instead of grading essays or math tests. During the year it is so difficult to deny my most favorite activity. I don’t check out books from the library or talk to people about what they are reading. I make sure all my own favorite books, the ones I have read a dozen times, are not on bookshelves where I will see them. If I allow myself reading time, I will choose it every time over the hundreds of individual student papers I have to read each week. And reading before bed is harder, as I will choose books over sleep. I’ve happily read thousands of pages this summer (more to come on that topic soon).
- Watching t.v. for mature audiences is possible. During the school year, there is certainly isn’t much television at the house. However, programming that isn’t suitable for my 8-year old is non-existent during the school year. After a typical 10 hour day at school, we come home (that’s if there are no errands, to be done after school) and dinner needs to be made, pets cared for, laundry needs to be done, homework, showers, bedtime. By the time 9 p.m. rolls around I haven’t sat down much all day and as soon as my rear hits the couch I can barely follow my own thoughts, much less a complicated storyline. This week I am binge watching The Handmaid’s Tale. The challenges involved in watching a series like this all at once are self-explanatory.
- Planning my fluid intake and bathroom visits strategically is challenging. If you teach, you already know this is no joke. This is the schedule that sort of works for me during the year. As soon as I wake up I down 16 ounces of water. Then I drink 1/2 to 1 cup of coffee. One hour later I visit the bathroom just before leaving the house. As soon as I get to school I drink 8 ounces more water and then 2 minutes before the door opens I visit the bathroom. I then hope that I am sufficiently hydrated to make it through the morning. During my 15-minute lunch, going to the bathroom is necessary, and I also have to drink enough water to allow me to converse for the next two hours but not enough to need the bathroom for that time. All this depends on my actually remembering to drink water while being interrupted dozens of times and having to make several hundred other important decisions each day. If you are fortunate, you have teammates who are willing to coordinate bio breaks so that you don’t have to choose between bladder infections and supervising your class properly. The struggle is so real.
- Watching the birds out my window in the morning is a wonderful way to wake up. Though the birds are active at dawn with me in the early mornings between August and May, the absolute splendor of listening and watching the bluebirds, towhees, hummingbirds, and migrating tanagers in the gamble oaks outside my bedroom window between 7 and 8 a.m. is a special activity that epitomizes summer break for me.
- I might write a novel before I retire. It’s been 8 years now since I started my novel and it didn’t get done this summer either. The 10 hours per week I now spend blogging and writing creatively is soon to be filled with about 10 hours per week of writing lesson plans, newsletters, learning objectives, parent communications, and individualized education plans: dusty dry stuff. I will give the juicy writing one more go this week, as I participate in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s Novel-o-Rama, encouraging writers to pen 25,000 words in a weekend. My 8-year old novel (now at 20,000 words) will hopefully reach a total of 25,000 words by Monday.
There are other simple joys of summer that could make this list, but if I spend too much time writing about them, I won’t go do them. I’m looking forward to the next few weeks and going back to school and I’ll let you know all about that as I transition. But for now, I need to go clean the baseboards in the kitchen, because that certainly won’t happen before Thanksgiving break if it isn’t done now. Cheers!