Breather

The first 7 weeks of this school year have been relentless. They’ve included quite a few extra (normally free, so unpaid work) days sacrificed for school-related events. There was a two day camping trip, a conference weekend, several evening parent-teacher meetings, a field trip, and a Sunday afternoon spent preparing with a colleague. Even my husband started commenting on how much time I am spending at work this year. The worst part is my guilty conscience for neglecting friends and family. For instance, I have been meaning to call 2T for two months now. And the girls? Once a week at least, they have to come home from school to an empty house, cook their own lunch and take care of the dogs.

Last week, I came home absolutely shattered after the team meeting. (“Not Feeling the Love Today”) This week, something broke open and all sorts of truth was released. Colleagues admitted one after another what had them at the end of their ropes – dealing with difficult parents in one case, a work group that isn’t functioning in another. In my case, it was the repeated endless discussions about problems that, in the end, we can’t solve on our own. For the remaining two members, it turned out to be private troubles that were zapping the energy they usually reserved for work. All of us felt that our actual job – teaching the kids – was getting the short end of the stick. As the talk continued, the old team feeling started to return. We moved to the next point on the agenda – our budget – and immediately adjusted it to include a lot more money for team mediation. We all left with the feeling that a corner had been turned and help was on the way.

That was Monday. Today I woke up in Graz after 9 and ½ hours of deep sleep and headed to the art museum to visit the last student on my list. It is Practical Experience week and most of my students are off somewhere in a company or store, learning about the real world of work. I visited the first five yesterday and then went to teach my university course. The evening was rounded off in a great Italian restaurant, catching up with my oldest Austrian friend. But back to today. After leaving the art museum, I caught a train and went home. After dealing with the dogs, I sat down and thought “So what do I have to do today?”

Then it hit me.

Tomorrow I would be in school, but with no students to teach – so nothing to prepare. A long glorious 4 day weekend would follow because of the Monday holiday. The rest of my classes for next week were already prepared. There was no laundry, because I had done it all last weekend. The house was clean because my daughters had done their chores yesterday – even the kitchen!

I had nothing to do.

At that moment, the telephone rang. It was N³ announcing the return of our weekly get-togethers with 2T, now on Thursdays, starting tomorrow. Then the doorbell rang. My new supply of Cheetos was delivered.

It’s a whole new world.

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