Every school teacher dreads it. As soon as the red, white, and blue flag decorations come down and the Fourth of July commercials stop airing, we begin to sense it. The respite of summer vacation quickly coming to an end. Soon it will be time for kids to go back to school and teachers to go back to work! I know teachers don’t get much sympathy from the traditional working world of people who only get a few weeks off per year. Believe me, I don’t even get any sympathy from my husband! However, it does seem like summer vacation days fly by much faster than they used to.
This summer has been a good one for me. I have spent a little time doing projects and a lot of time with my family. I have taken some time to relax and recuperate from my busy Spring. It’s been a time to de-stress and just think. Lately, I have been remembering all of the long summers I spent watching Holt play baseball. Back then it seemed like he played rec ball all through the summer right up to August. Running him from practice to games, sitting in the hot sun for hours just to watch and cheer on his team. So many hours that I wish we could go back and relive. Dave would come home from work and head straight to the field to coach. Me, trying to watch the action of the game while at the same time keeping an eye on, “my little wanderer,” Hunter. I would get caught up in watching a play, and before I knew it, Hunter would escape out of my sight. Those days seemed like they would last forever, as if the boys were growing up so slowly. Now I know that in actuality, time was passing way too fast. I look back and realize how quickly those days flew by, and how the boys did not stay little long enough.
I am very thankful that I have a job that has allowed me to have summers off with my kids. I remember when I was in college getting my education degree. I was in my early twenties then, and during a break between classes one day, while I was just sitting at a table studying, a lady came up to me and asked if I was going to college to be a teacher. When I answered that I was, she asked if I would answer a few questions because she too was taking education classes and needed to interview future teachers for a class assignment. The lady was a lot older than me at that time. She looked as if she had pursued another career when she was younger and decided at a later age to go back to college to be a teacher.
Rather than asking me a list of questions, I remember that she mainly asked me why I wanted to be a teacher. Oddly, I can remember like it was just yesterday how I answered her question. Instead of responding with some elaborate answer related to my philosophy of education or stating the fact that I believe all kids can learn and deserve the opportunity to feel successful. What I said came out of my mouth without even a stutter, and I still remember it so vividly. I said boldly, “Being a teacher will allow me the chance to spend more time with my children and family.”
“Where in the world did that answer come from?” I thought silently as the lady looked at me in shock. I was already married at this time, but we had no kids yet. With me still in college, Dave and I had not even begun to think seriously about starting a family, so you can imagine my own astonishment with the first answer that came out of my mouth. When I saw the look on the lady’s face, I tried to add some educational jargon from the college classes I had taken so far, but the damage had pretty much been done. I could definitely tell that she did not have much respect for my honest answer. I would even go so far as to bet that her whole class probably discussed my lack of educational enthusiasm when she presented the results of our interview in class the following day.
I will admit I felt a little embarrassed, like I had said something out loud that was a “no-no” for an ambitious professional in the field of education. For a long time I regretted that I did not say something really philosophical that day. I wished my answer had been one that made her have hope in a new generation of teachers rather than question my motives. I guess I wished then that my answer had been less from the heart and more full of fluff.
Last week, even though my husband is jealous of my summers, I helped him out by mowing the grass so he would not have to. As I was riding along, I thought back to all the summers I have enjoyed with Holt and Hunter since they were little. From the times they were in diapers and it felt like we rocked all summer long to the times I have driven them from place to place doing the things they enjoyed. Mom’s taxi service available 24/7 during the months of June and July. I thought about how I would not trade one single day spent with them. How when I was “interviewed” by that lady twenty-five years ago, I had no idea how my life would turn out, but how thankful I am that teaching has afforded me the opportunity to be home during the summers. How back in my twenties, when I honestly allowed God to have little to do with my personal decisions, He still guided me and knew my heart. How even when the thought of my own children was so far from being real, God knew what was to come. How one day I would thank him for giving me all of those summers with them. He knew.
There are times when I still try to make my own decisions, and for that reason, there are times that I live with regret. If I could ever fully understand that God knows me much better than I even know myself. He looks out for me even when I do not have the sense or inclination to want what is best. He looks out for me more than anybody. He puts those right desires in my heart if I will just listen and obey.
Not that I don’t love teaching or enjoy the sense of helping a child learn and succeed; I do. Teaching is a job that takes a lot out of a person, both mentally and emotionally. It is a test of patience and perseverance with limited rewards, yet teachers step up to the challenge year after year because they want to see each child reach his or her full potential in life. Teachers are all fighting on the same side of the battle as they help children climb the ladder of educational success because no teacher wants his or her year with that child to cause a weak rung. It’s not an easy way to make a living, but I am very thankful for my job.
The time is drawing near. Like it or not, in a few weeks those familiar bells are going to ring again, right on schedule. A lot has changed in education since I started teaching twenty-four years ago, but thanks to God and two little Rowland boys, my reason for wanting to be a teacher proudly remains the same.