My life seems to have exploded in an, um, explosion of madness.
Mind you, I’m starting to recall that the same thing happened this time last year, and am thankful that it’s mostly enjoyable madness this time around – as opposed to stress levels that became so high I almost quit my job after several months of teaching way more classes than I’d ever anticipated. The school director seems to have learned from last year’s morale-crushing mistakes, for she has taken many of our suggestions (and desperate pleas) on board, and spent a great deal of time designing this year’s timetable to ensure that each teacher gets enough short breaks to catch their breath, and also a few much-needed hours per week just for lesson planning and paperwork. Classes start tomorrow, and we’re all pretty enthusiastic about it.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s suddenly a breeze. Far from it, in fact, as I discovered at 5pm when I found that the day I had allocated to setting up materials and preparing lesson plans had rather spectacularly disappeared in a flurry of teacher training sessions, staff meetings, and elementary school classes. There went my relaxing evening and the only time I’d set aside to clean the apartment and do my laundry – with sinking hearts it dawned on us, one by one, that we weren’t going to be going home any time soon.
I must confess. Secretly, and to an extent, I think I actually enjoy stress. I do, really… I can’t quite explain it, but there’s a certain buzz that comes with rushing around all harassed, clutching stacks of papers and fighting colleagues for the photocopier, and frantically scribbling notes, and cutting/laminating/gluing with ribbons around your neck and drawing pins between your teeth in a way that only kindergarten teachers do. I love the fact that I can go about my tasks quietly, on my own, while sitting on the floor next to a couple of non-English-speaking colleagues, and that we can still somehow communicate with and assist each other when necessary. I love the feeling of real, aching tiredness that tells you you’ve really earned your night’s sleep – even when your back is sore and your eyelids are drooping and your feet are throbbing. I think I’m just thriving on the feeling of being necessary and useful in my workplace after spending most of my adult life feeling useless, not knowing what I could contribute to the world.
Anyway so, it’s 10.30pm and I’m just home. The director suddenly caught sight of the time at around 7 and realised that all her staff were still frantically working. To her credit, she then ordered in dinner for us, which we quickly scarfed down before getting back to work. Terri and I crawled into the office around 9, announcing our departure and receiving the sort of hearty thank you for our efforts that makes me (a people-pleasing praise junkie) glow and want to return and work till I actually collapse. Instead, though, we staggered home in an exhausted stupor, collapsed on Terri’s bed, and shared a bottle of wine with her sister, who’s just arrived back from her holidays and looked like the very image of energy and vitality next to us. Never has a glass of expensive wine felt so deserved (nor so wonderful). Our apartments both look like they’ve been hit by bombs and then sprayed with some kind of dirty laundry-dispensing hosepipe, but it’s hard to care at this point.
And so to bed – for tomorrow, the school will once again be filled with the pitter-patter of tiny feet and the excited squealing of infant voices. And that’s when the real hard work begins!
I can’t wait.