Sunday, January 1, 2012

Seven Stages

Well, friends, school starts tomorrow and I am sad, sad, sad. And before my non-teacher friends start falling all over themselves to point out the fact that teachers have awesome vacation time and shouldn't even complain let me just tell you that you just have no idea how badly we need that vacation by the time it comes. School vacation time is very carefully thought out and orchestrated by the powers that be for a reason. To keep us out of jail and off the news. To keep your children out of hospitals. We are all on edge by the time we are released. We are all ready to snap.

This is why winter break, spring break, and summer vacation are so eagerly anticipated by teachers and students alike. We plan our whole years around them. We make everyone who is integral to our lives plan around them. Want to go to Europe? Want to get married and honeymoon? Want a baby? Not until summer, baby! That's the time of year we live for around my house.

Something about this year had everyone I know on edge until winter break. We were like mental patients waiting for the doctor to release us back into society. We became wardens to the students, who stalked the halls like they were ready to lose their minds. It was a weird end to the year which only made me look forward to the break even more.

And now that I'm on the cusp of the close of this holiday, and have already started grieving it's loss, it has dawned on me that like the 7 stages of grief, we teachers run through the 7 stages of vacation. The difference is that our 7 stages are a direct reversal of the very well-known 7 stages of grieving.

Allow me to explain:

Stage 1: Acceptance and Hope- It is December 13, and you only have a few days left before the break. You have accepted that this week will be frustratingly crammed with last minute grading and that you might have a few rather late days and nights, but after that you will have two whole weeks to forget all of the bad, and focus on why you love your life and what you do. The titillating flower of hope unfurls its petals in front of you as you look forward to some quiet time to reflect, plan, and even get a little laundry done.

Stage 2: Reconstruction and Working Through- Vacation is here! You resolve to do a bit of work while you are at home to restructure your classroom and have everything ready when you return so you are stress free when you come back in January. You just know you will dedicate two days (two days is nothing!) to plan. You also know you will get so much accomplished during these two weeks, both personally and professionally.

Stage 3: The Upward Turn- You start to adjust to life without children who are not yours and to a life without bells. Days go by peacefully and almost languidly. No one is announcing anything from a P.A. system. Your name is no longer "Miss." You have an identity! You have hopes and dreams of your own, which you are able to pursue without guilt during any part of the day you would like to.

Stage 4: Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness-You realize a week and a half has gone by. Really, really quickly.

Stage 5: Anger and Bargaining- You start to feel "sick." Probably way too sick to return on time. You pray for mono or walking pneumonia. But not too bad a case as that would be inconvenient. Then it dawns on you: A broken limb wouldn't be too bad. Really, anything that will keep you comfortable and laying on a couch or in bed surrounded by magazines and trashy novels will do. And if you're sick, someone will probably bring you things and cook for you. You'd probably only miss a couple more days....

Stage 6: Pain and Guilt-You feel a little immature and guilty for "working through" stage 5. You really don't want to be in any pain for the sake of more days, and you feel a little greedy about wanting more time off. Everyone is already headed back to work and here you are. Alone. You should want to go back to your job. You love your job. In all honesty, if you have to work, this one is a decent gig. But if you could be a woman of leisure....

Stage 7: Shock and Denial- Tomorrow is your first day back. You did not do any work to prepare. You watch episodes of "Breaking Bad" late in to the night as if you have nothing to do tomorrow. You cannot believe it went by so quickly. You are afraid to close your eyes for fear of having the dreaded work dreams that have plagued you the last few days. Your husband tell you that in the middle of the night last night he heard you saying in your sleep, "No! It does not take six of you to run a t.v. to the library!" You won't believe it's really over until you hear the ringing of the alarm clock. This is not fair!

So now I'm here, wallowing in Stage 7. To all my work peeps, see you tomorrow!