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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Labor Pains

This is the weekend that for my entire life, I used to start things I wish I had done all summer. It held more meaning than New Year's resolutions to me. Having been an elementary school teacher my entire adult life, that cycle was just a continuation of my student cycle. I remember such things as building a fort in the woods when I was about 12. This meant that I would start seventh grade with poison ivy closing my eyes to slits. Starting workout routines to beef up for school sports was a yearly ritual. And that of course meant that I would walk more stiffly through the corridors of Camden Catholic HS than even the shirt, tie and blazer demanded. Getting my car ready to drive back to college was routine but a comedy of errors. Ancient VW's with bald tires are not exactly express trains on the mountain roads of New York. Early in my teaching years it was a mad dash to organize my classroom and my teaching plans. I learned later to do this in July so I could do things like building a porch or reshingling a roof on this last weekend.

These days, I just check in with all those who are still in school. See how they're doing. FaceBook and MySpace have been very useful that way. Although I probably look like a predator among all those young faces. My daughter, who is starting her middle school teaching job was told to ditch her MySpace account. Probably very wise advice. I doubt there are more child molestations these days than there ever were but the publicity is just so much easier in this digital 24 hour news era.

I've been chatting with a lot of old students who have either started school if they're in college or living down south, or about to start school. I see a general pattern and some surprises too. Kids going away to college are a lot more enthusiastic. But I'm fairly certain this has more to do with total freedom than with love of academia. The junior college kids are working and taking classes they are generally bored with as they try to figure out what to do with their lives. And all the while they are still living with their folks with high school rules. So the difference in enthusiasm is understandable. I still think junior college is a fantastic deal. Especially when you have no stinking idea what you want to do with your life.

The kids still in high school are much less enthusiastic all around. But they are also into not sharing much info. The kids who didn't go to college really vary. Labor day is just a day off for them. Unless they work in a place where there are no days off. That is, fast food and retail. But this group shows a lot of different attitudes toward life in general. Some are happy to be working two or three jobs and living on their own. Some are paralyzed and not moving forward and getting down on themselves. Some are finding careers that are not what they hoped for but they are happy with them and feeling like they are self sufficient. Some are really drifting. Some are treading water, waiting for an opportunity.

I know that the college kids will fit into many of those descriptions at the end of their four years. Or they might go to grad school to prolong the process. And some will come out sitting on the top of the world.

Cathy had a beautiful idea. She thought it would be fun to send my daughter a mug of flowers on her first day of school. So we did and the card reads, "Here's the first of hundreds of teacher mugs you'll receive in your career!" If you've never known a teacher with an enormous mug collection, perhaps you have given a few away to teachers. Or your kid's teachers. It took us many years to break all those mugs. I managed to keep a few from crashing to the floor or sink.

And so I raise a caffeine laden mug to those of you who are still working 9 to 5 or 6 to 2 or both. Better days are ahead. It's called retirement. Plan well.

posted by Bud @ 10:23 AM

Comments:
Camden Catholic, huh? My dad and I have photographed many proms for that school.

The mug idea was sweet. It will probably be her favorite forever!

My son is considering teaching Math. It's his senior year in HS. Can't believe it! I'm not old enough or nearly ready enough to let him go.

I don't do the Facebook or MySpace thing. I'm not interesting in acquiring a list of friends there. I'm happy just blogging.
 
Jessica, we've crossed paths many times Just not in the same decade. And you have many more decades to go before thinking you're actually old.
 
Ah yes, school daze! ;)

EXCELLENT idea, the mug of flowers!
I raise my mug to YOU, my friend... come check out the award that's waiting for you over on my blog! (3 posts down) =)

Hope you're having a nice Labor Day w/e!
 
How times have changed. We used to give teachers anything with an apple on it, or a bell. Coffee mugs make much more sense.
 
we had nuns.

we gave them holy cards...thinking now how those women made around $100 a year for the job they did (and yes, we all make fun, but, the education i received was amazing) i should have been slipping them cash.

all of mine are out of school, save hrh, and her new husband has to deal with her tuition now.

heh.
 
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