Tuesday, March 25, 2008

By The Bootstraps

In my neck of the woods, we have two vacation weeks after the December holidays.  One is in February and the next is in April.  There are eight weeks in between.

Now, before I go too much further, I should stop for a moment and recognize that there are those out there who go far longer between respites.  And they are no doubt thinking, "Eight weeks?  P'shaw!  I could do eight weeks standing on my head!"  I don't deny that it is a fine, fine thing to have the school vacation calendar and that I have ample time with which to fritter away the days.  Eight weeks isn't really all that long in real time.

Kid time is different.

You know how it is those last couple weeks of summer vacation?  You've already done all the family stuff that you said you were going to do back when your kids first came charging off the bus on that last day of school.  Or at least all the stuff that you could realistically stand doing.  You've run through every trick of the parenting trade, made caterpillars out of egg cartons and rented every single movie on the "Family" shelf at the local video place.  Now all you can do is count the hours until the children go back to school so you can get back to doing all the stuff that is hard to do with kids around.  God knows, you still love 'em.  You're pretty sure you'd still take a bullet for them and you haven't gotten around to canceling birthdays yet.  You're just kind of tired.

It's sort of like that.  I do love my job most of the time and the kids entertain me to a degree that you cannot even begin to imagine.  But, we've all been stuck together for a while now and it's hard not to wish for a change of scenery.  We've had the same arguments over work completion and fairness at least twice weekly.  We've seen each other's outfits in every imaginable configuration.  We've been swapping the same stupid cold back and forth for an eternity.  There is no end in sight either.  We have a ways to go.  The best anyone can hope for is a snow day to break things up a bit.  But we are at the point in the school year where too many more of those will result in someone having to step up and plan the school's Fourth of July picnic.  Make up days can be brutal.  So we persevere.  But we get cranky.

And, to add to the tension level, we are also beginning Parent/Teacher conferences this week.  Since I teach in both schools housed in this building, I will be doing double duty for two nights this week.  More time staring at those walls.  At least the kids get half days so that we can fit all the parent meetings in.  But the fifth and sixth grades have different conference days so I shall be teaching one grade or the other while my colleagues get to attend the parent sponsored luncheons provided for our dining pleasure.

You can see where it might get to the point where Ms. Sheep starts counting the days until April Vacation week.  But she doesn't want to do that just yet.  There are still many days to go and this could be disheartening.  And she wants to keep up her generally sunny demeanor for conferences as it is not the fault of the children nor of their parents that the school calendar runs this way.  Lunging forward, grabbing the lapels of some unsuspecting Dad and screaming, "Dear God in heaven, however shall I make it???  I just want five minutes to go to the bathroom...is that too much to ask?" then begging for prescriptions of any size, shape and dosage is generally frowned upon in my profession.

So you find happiness in the little things.  Like the fact that you haven't screwed up The Invisibility Shawl like you did last time because you thought it would be a good idea to knit a bit of it the day you had your cat put to sleep.  (For the record: don't do that.  Just trust me on this one.  You will not be pleased with the results of your needlework)  Or maybe you just happened to decide to wander into your favorite department store today to discover that they were having a sale to end all sales.  Maybe you even found that pair of brown leather ankle boots with the reasonable-but-still-sort-of-fetching heel that you've been looking for since forever and then some.  And maybe those boots were 80% off since the winter season is fast fading.  

Stuff like that will go a long way towards making the trek towards Spring Break seem like something I can do.  Of course, I make no promises.  There is still a chance that I will snap during my dinner break tomorrow night because the only thing left after the feeding frenzy in the teacher's room is the veggie platter.  I'm still holding up pretty well, however there are some variables over which I have no control.

But, should the crazy come to pass, I shall be carried out of the place in a pretty sweet pair of kicks!



Future SIL said...

Aren't we the same shoe or should I say BOOT size?

PICAdrienne said...

In our (my kids) school district, the period of time between mid-Winter break and Spring break is the longest stretch of school days without a day off. We generally do not earn snow days...(last year we had 7, they paid for that, the kids no longer want snow days, they want two hour delays.) They do have late starts almost every Friday of the year. I think that is the only thing keeping them sane.

Knitting Linguist said...

I don't know how you do it. Honestly, I am (literally) counting the minutes until I'm done teaching tomorrow and can be officially on spring break and start ignoring student/colleague emails for a whole week and a half. I think it must be much, much harder when it's all day every day with smaller people. Probably funnier at times, but also harder.

trek said...

New boots, eh?

Wicked good.

Beth said...

It is obvious that you are feeling the stress of needing a break - you didn't post a picture of your new boots!!! :)

Alwen said...

Yeah, where are those sweet feet?

Anonymous said...

I bought a pair of black leather ankle boots with a sweet but reasonable heel this winter; on sale, but only a token 20% off. The kicker (kicker! I crack myself up!) is that they were Cat brand, as in Caterpillar heavy equipment. They were right next to the Harley Davidson boots, but I passed on those -- too much HD-embossed hardware on them.

Okay. Now. You know I am fond of you and you know I admire what you do and you know that I know there is no way in he!! that I could do it. But. I feel compelled to offer the following, just to put your 8 weeks into perspective.

When I was in school (and my mother was a 1st grade teacher, so this applied to her, too) we had no break of any kind between the 2 weeks at Christmas/New Year's and Easter. And if Easter happened to be late one year, too bad; suck it up, school people.

Others who go longer than eight weeks:

* Mothers of preschool age children (lordy, those were the hardest years of my life; I don't know why my children are still alive).

* Psychiatric nurses and aides in in-patient child and adolescent psyche units (like my husband). Year-round except for the 2-week vacation. They don't have to be responsible for a whole roomful of kids at once, but their charges are often several degrees worse, behavior- and attitude-wise, than kids in public schools.

* Day-care teachers. Another group to whom I take off my hat. They also have the unfortunate fate of being paid far less than their services are worth.

* Home-schoolers. Maybe, maybe not; depends on how any given home-schooler runs her/his *school.* But they still have the kids during vacations. POnder that for a while.

Okay, you can send me hate mail now. Or post nasty comments on MY blog. Or, even worse, magically transform me into a teacher -- I don't know who would be more miserable, me or the poor students who had to suffer my tutelage.

Ronni said...

Excellent! I need some new "showing off hand knit socks but not not clogs" shoes. But I'm seriously considering hiring you as a personal shopper and sending you out looking for them. Your shopping karma beats mine by several orders of magnitude.

Congrats on the new boots. And don't feel bad about the vacation heebie jeebies. It's only Tuesday of my daughter's vacation week and I'd be counting the hours if her dad wasn't taking most of tomorrow off to take her out of the house. But then, I'm a baaaad mommy.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting anxious for your April vacation, too; it means I'll get to see you at Chicks with Sticks (notice how I just assume you will be there). I thought of you last night when the Giver of Life started discussing the yanking out of babies again! I might have even been a bit rude and looked at Patti and said "Where's Annie, when you need her." But, as you know, she never thinks the rudeness is directed at her.

Donna Lee said...

One of the reasons I am reluctant to leave my current place of employment(as a psychiatric social worker) is because after 14 years here I have good benefits and 5 weeks of vacation time each year. I live for those days off because then when people (my family) say they "need" me, I can tell them to go away. Unfortunately, at work that would get me is trouble. I understand the long slog from vacation to vacation and count those days carefully.

Karen said...

New boots! That's always good.
Good luck with the teacher conferences.

Mia said...

ahh, an april vacation break sounds just fine. Hang in there.. it'll be here in a minute.

Rabbitch said...

Oh lord. Do I need to send fibre?

MathIsBeauty said...

I would also love to see pics of the new kicks.
I just got back from spring break and am starting my second 8-week classes. We offer classes at my college in 16-week or 8-week formats and I much prefer the 8-week blocks. I get to start fresh every 8 weeks and get to have new faces in my classes (about 1/2 are returning from the last 8 week sessions.)

Cursing Mama said...

I think the cheerful teaching assistant needs to be responsible for gathering a sheep meal on conference days. I also think the sheep owed us a picture of some new boots.

Lynne said...

With a nice pair of handknit socks inside, no doubt! :-)