Like clockwork, the school dreams began last night. Every year as we swim and sun and hike our way to a last Summer hurrah on Lake Michigan’s shores, the subconscious’s alarm clock goes off and visits me at night with those teacher disaster dreams— naked in front of the class, unprepared, the kids not paying me any mind. It’s the way to announce the summer’s bliss has come to its cadence and its time to prepare for the Fall ahead.
Why disaster dreams? Has anyone done a study? Is it just our shared intuition that we’re not worthy to lead children to a glorious future—or at least a decent day in school? Is it the way we act out the disaster in its ephemeral form so we’ll be spared it in real life? Is it our clever Subconscious getting its revenge on the bully Conscious who constantly pushes it down? Who knows? But the important thing is the signal— it’s time.
I’ve been having these dreams year after year and having piled up to a simply astonishing number of 40, here they are again. Do my retired colleagues still have them? Will I miss them some year (coming soon) when September rolls around and Summer’s welcome mat of freedom rolls into the Fall? Will there be new seasonal dreams to take their place?
Time will tell. But meanwhile, summer is on its way out, also signaled by a chill in the Michigan air these past two days. Now on our last day, when we hoped for one last languish in the sun or splash in the refreshing waters, it’s raining. Makes it easier to leave, but we’re all a little disappointed.
When someone says, “You teachers have it so easy, a whole summer off,” my usual response is to throttle them. Or suggest that we switch jobs for a day and throw them to the lions of the 3-year olds followed by 8th grade and watch them run screaming from the building and back to their cubicle plunking around on the computer. But it’s true that the 10-week summer is a sweet deal, well-earned, but gratifying, a chance to live another sort of life and return with renewed energy.
And don’t get me wrong— the 3-year olds and 8th graders can be like wild lions, but years in the circus together and we all have it down. We have an understanding with each other and I don’t even need a whip anymore! But all that is in a couple of weeks. For now, one final wave to the lake and a fond farewell to a remarkable summer.
See ya next year!