Every year, at about the beginning of August, the most annoying things start to occur. For starters, all the flyers delivered to my home carry a banner welcoming me back to school. Like I want to be reminded that my hard-earned vacation time is dwindling?? And why should anyone want to be reminded of this on August 4th, a whole month ahead of time? Not me ... and for sure, not the kids.
Why is it, by the way, when you are anticipating an event with pleasure, the minutes preceding it tick by with excruciating slowness, but if it's something you would preferably put off indefinitely, the days whiz by like a sugar-infused kid on a trike? I would also like to take a moment to congratulate (?) Staples Business Depot on having created the most annoying advertisement for back-to-school ... and to ask them, with all due respect, for whom exactly is this "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"?
Even the weather seems to be in on the joke. End of July? bikini weather. A week into August, the temperature plummets and we break out the flannel jammies and sweatpants. At least, it's that way where I live. If anyone had bothered to ask my opinion, I have always thought that summer weather should be sunlit and balmy till the last day. First week of school, let there be an arctic mass descend, with rain, hail, sleet, frigid temps, high winds, whatever they please to throw at us, since we're stuck inside from dawn till dusk anyway. But don't mess with my summer vacation. It's sacred.
This year, school comes at me with talons unfurled and fangs bared. I love my job most days, but when you're just not ready, there ain't nothing can make it seem more appealing than a festering, gangrenous wound. Here I pause and contemplate the merits of one over the other ... nope, the jury's still out on that one, folks. So you may begin to understand my dilemma.
It's a mere two days away. Here I sit, Sunday morning, with all this dread anticipation clogging my throat. I'm not ready, but on Tuesday morning, I must once again open my barbeque-laced heart, my cloud-gazing soul and my summer-stagnated mind to a group of children who range in age from a barely potty-trained 10 to a barely house-broken 18. Over the next 10 months, it will be my duty to inspire these cave-dwellers to feats of mental adequacy or, in a few cases, excellence. Not only that, but I must teach by example that kindness, generosity of spirit, and a sense of responsibility are desirable traits that will get them much farther in life than the ability to bellow curses, or to beat the snot out of every person who crosses their path.
So, why do I do it? I'm smiling as I respond to this. It's simple, really. Regardless of how bad it gets, underneath it's pretty damned good. I've been in the game for 14 years now, and I have yet to be untouched by my kids in some miraculous and inspiring ways. It doesn't happen every day, but when you reach inside a kid and bring something up to the light, it's like a beacon shining all the way to heaven. That's it. I believe that kids are the ultimate surprise package. You never know what's in there, but when you open them up, you are never disappointed.