Back in Harness

The first day of school hereabouts and rainy too. My ever-bubbly neighbor called merrily back to her household upon walking out her door at just now.

Meaning JUST now, at 5:25 in the morning. “Good bye Good bye! Have a great day!”  etc.

That’s what woke me.

It also woke Old Dave, who since 2:00 am had been in the living room on his insomnia couch where he very nicely goes so as not to disturb me by switching on the light. He gets under his special insomnia blanket and starts in reading the Wall Street Journal’s tiniest-printing pages and before he knows it he’s dozed off again.

It’s better than Sominex! he says, showing how sweetly out-of-date he is, talking Sominex when fully one-third of the American population is mainlining Ambien and having somnambulistic adventures that would make your hair curl if you thought about it at all . (ASLEEP WHILE DRIVING? This person in the oncoming car is actually sleeping?!)

So this nice neighbor’s voice woke him as I was saying and woke me too.

HE sank into the bed, sighing comfily and went back to sleep for another two-and-a-half hours

I couldn’t do that.

Not on the first day of school.

Never mind that my kids are out of school themselves.

Never mind that I haven’t been a teacher for many years.

Three years ago my brother-in-law, then a school principal, asked me if I wouldn’t like  to be a permanent substitute just from April vacation until the end of the school year on June 20th.

“‘JUST’ that long? You mean of course every day I suppose?”

“Yes every day.”

“You mean ALL Day every day?”

“Well yes all day every day.”

I have gone in to many a classroom since I became a writer to give little talks and workshops but I have not since Jimmy Carter was in the White House spent more than a day max. I’m an ‘act’, a guest speaker, a one-hit wonder.

Spend the whole day in front of the kids, hour after hour, class after class, selling joy, and the fun of learning, and the satisfaction of mastery over a subject?

The thought that I could do that now from the midst of this dabbling and dilletantish current life made me blood pressure soar.

It’s not a job for the faint of heart. It’s a job for the pros, the heroes, the athletes, in other words the teachers who,  in my town anyway, start all over again today. And I know one thing: THEY sure won’t need Sominex tonight or anything like it either.

7 thoughts on “Back in Harness

  1. Thanks Terry. I needed a little pick-me-up this morning as I head to school today. It was 19 years ago when your son entered my classroom to make my day. I hope I can conjure up the same excitement as I did that morning for this brand new set of kiddos.

  2. I recall my sister’s first day of kindergarten. Ever mischievous, my next door playmate and I assured my sister that she must run across the kindergarten floor, curtsey before the teacher, and say, “Good morning, dear teacher.” We hid behind the door and witnessed that she did as directed. Must have been a first for that teacher!

  3. Today is New Year’s Day to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a son-of-a-teach, but this was always the time for new beginnings, new pencils, new notebooks, blank pages waiting to be filled.

  4. Great column, as always…as the daughter and mother of teachers, and a part-time teacher myself, it really hit home….keep it up, Terry, and thanks for your insightful perspective on so many topics….

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