My first teaching job was at Blue Springs High School in the Kansas City area. I taught three classes of Junior English and three classes of kids who were all repeating Sophomore English. It was a miserable year. The sophomore repeaters was a tough assignment (and the juniors weren't all sugar and spice either). I had very little confidence in myself as a teacher yet, and my students stomped on what little I had every day, it seemed.
School started at 7:30am (as I recall -- it was some ungodly hour, anyway). Of course, I had to be there earlier than that, and I had a bit of a drive to get there. My defining memory of that year is waking up to a cursed alarm in the wee hours of the morning, getting out of bed in the dark cold, getting ready in the bathroom while Keith slept (he didn't start work until later) and desperately trying to not think about how much I dreaded my day. It was awful. It was all I could do to keep going sometimes.
I was remembering those days this morning as my girls got ready for school -- in the early, dark cold. The first day back after a break is always hard, so I expected the grumbling. But what I saw in their faces and heard in their voices was that same feeling I remembered from the year teaching in Blue Springs. I hate this. I just hate this. God, help me get through this ..... In fact, those were Leslie's exact words when she came home tearful after a difficult art class today: I just hate this.
I think it's mostly the Christmas-break-is-over blues. But I know it's hard for them to go every day. Eastin was whining this morning about wanting to be homeschooled again. Then she wouldn't have to get up so early . . . she would be able to do her work on the sofa instead of a hard desk . . . she would have more time to spend with her friends . . . I tried to remind her of the advantages of going to school, and because she's a trooper, she nodded and smiled. But I secretly sympathized with her. School is hard. Growing up is hard.
SIGH. Okay, okay -- I'm probably just over-reacting to a rough morning. All I know is, I wouldn't wish those mornings of hopeless, desperate dread I experienced that year on any of my grown, mature, adult friends, much less on my young, still-maturing daughters. It seems to me that sometimes we parents allow society to talk us into putting our kids in unacceptable situations just because we don't have the courage to buck the system and tell the Emperor he's naked.
One of the biggest problems with sending my kids away to school is, I'm not there to see the situations they're in, to know if they're really unacceptable or not. I'm sure some of you would tell me I just need to trust God to take care of them while they're there. Yes, yes, of course. But I'm reminded of the story of the man trapped on his roof during a flood who turned away rescue boat and helicopter, saying, "I'm trusting God to save me." When he drowned and went to heaven and asked God why He didn't save him, God replied, "Look, dude -- I sent you a boat, I sent you a helicopter . . ."
Whatever. This is our life now, and we'll deal with it. But at the very LEAST, we should start everyone's school and workdays no earlier than nine. Like that would kill anybody.