Yes, summer vacation arrived, for me, around 11:15 this morning. I could have left an hour earlier; however, I needed to make sure the Boy was able to ride a bus home with his friend for a sleepover and, given I have a crappy memory, I had to make sure he was able to get on the bus to ride home with his friend for a sleepover. In case you were worried, the Boy made it to the friend’s house just fine and is likely creating great havoc with Nerf guns and video games. Rock on!
Summer vacation means living without an alarm clock. It means that I can actually be a little bit more of an adult and choose not to fall asleep at 9:30 at the latest if I want to sleep a decent eight hours. It means that I live without a constant schedule that is dictated by digital bells and the shuffling of students’ feet.
Summer vacation is a time of exploration and dreaming of exploration and wishing I had the money for exploration. Summer vacation is reading books that are intellectually stimulating and nothing more than trash. Summer vacation is going to the mountain and dreaming of where I am going to build my future retirement home and then cutting down trees that are on the path that leads to the site of my future retirement home.
Some of the mythology about summer vacation is that teachers pretty much do nothing during summer vacation. Now, that is likely true for some of my colleagues. I know that many teachers will be teaching summer school or working at a summer school site. I will likely be doing that next year given the Boy is probably going to get braces by the end of summer.
Summer vacation is the time when I catch up on the intellectually stimulating reading lists that I have set aside for the last nine months. It is when I work on a website I have created for my classes. It’s when I set up the writing assignments, reading assignments, classwork assignments, and other related work for the year. During summer vacation, I am researching social issues, culture events, or historic events that occurred when a writer I am thinking about teaching was writing or when the work of literature was set.
It’s when I assume the mother-identity first and stop pushing my children to the side so that I can fulfill the needs and requirements and obligations that is a part of my teaching career. If I write letters of recommendation at school, then I have to do the grading at home. If I grade at school, then I have to do the prep reading and work at home. The cycle is never-ending. I start writing letters of recommendation right around the time when I finish editing students’ college entry essays. It doesn’t end. It just takes breaks until the next part of the cycle begins.
I hate it when people think I went into teaching for three reasons: June, July, and August. I am insulted when I see bumper stickers on teacher’s cars that proclaim this as the three reasons for why they entered the teaching profession. If that truly is the case (and likely it is), then this is why the teaching profession is also plagued with the statement, “If you can, you do. If you can’t, you teach.”
Great. My profession which is heralded as life-altering and significant due to its profundity and its ability to mold the future is also perceived as being populated by failures.
That’s fine. Line me up with the other “failures.”
Sorry…having a sarcasm moment. I don’t perceive myself as a failure. I certainly don’t see my colleagues as failures. Okay..breathing. In..out…in…out…cough, cough.
The fact is, I love summer vacation because it is when I finally get a chance to do all the things I have dreamed about for the last nine months. This summer, I am going to do another round of editing on my novel. I will go to New York City for a month. I am going to hike at least 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail. I will pursue the dreams that I have stalled on and pushed aside and will grab them and hold them tightly.
Summer vacation is like a never-ending (although it ends) payment of the comp time I have donated to my county’s schools. Summer vacation is when I get to remove the shackles of routine or, at least, swap them out for a different routine.
I’m babbling. It’s summer vacation and Dr. Doofenschmirtz is singing about being the worst Sith in creation. It’s summer vacation. I don’t have to make sense. I just need to find the tiny shards of me that have been falling through the cracks of my fingers and re-glue them into all the cracks and fractures plaguing me and my sense of self.
It’s time to stop, to slow down, and to enjoy nothing more than the simple pleasure of a sun-warmed tomato that I just plucked from my garden.