Trying to remember what’s worth remembering

by Mr. Sheehy

How quickly I forget things of the past. Every year our district constructs the opening week of school the same. Teachers begin Wednesday and work two full days. Friday is then a short day where teachers can go home at 1:30, and students begin the next week. Personally I love the schedule because it leaves me time on Friday to get ready for Day 1. No one will schedule a meeting for Friday afternoon and most of my colleagues won’t be here for a leisurely (re:distracting) chat.

It also enables me to enjoy the last moments of my summer break, which is what I did yesterday morning. Mommy wasn’t feeling well and was attempting to sleep a bit, so the three kids and I grabbed a bag of muffins that thankfully existed (Mommy makes gooooood muffins), the sunscreen, hats, the kid-pack, and the bicycles and took off for the park. I walked, carrying S, who is two, and E and A rode their bikes (E, who is now six, is on training wheels and is ready to move off them when she has the courage; A, four, is on a Strider, which is a slick little product if you can afford it). We went for 15 minutes, stopped in the gazeebo long enough to eat nine muffins between us, walked back (crashing only once) and hung out on the playground for a half hour before sneaking back home.

Ultimately these are the kinds of things I want to remember about this first week of school–those last moments of summer, the time with my family, and the general idea that at some point I got ready for the school year. That’s what I recall about these weeks in the past, though I admit I am foggy on the details.

Now that I am here, however, a few other details have rushed back. For example, the open house that takes place on Thursday night from 5-7: I forgot about that again. That’s why we get out early on Friday, of course, but I never remember and am always disappointed. I also lose a good day during the first week as colleagues come to me for help with technology. I steer lots of people into other directions, but I get so many pleas from so many wonderful people, I inevitably get sucked in.

Alas. Here I am at the end of the day ready to go home, and I have done little more today than fill out more of my crossword puzzle, which I sneaked into the long morning meeting (I finally discovered that “men on the lam” was “escapees” and that “forgo” was “waive”).

Some things you’re supposed to forget, though, and this stuff about losing time and getting little finished is okay to lose. Relearning it every year is not unpleasant.

Losing that morning at the park, however, will break my heart some day, and I need to sit at my journal tonight and jot details. I can do it for my kids, for my wife, and for me. I can do it as a mark of how much I am enjoying the blessings bestowed upon me.

I could do it here at A Teacher’s Writes, I realize, but it is a tad more personal than I am willing to share. Alas, good reader, you are not in that part of my inner circle.

One final thought on the day: I know this use of writing as a way to minimize loss is no new thing, and it is what has motivated my mother to begin blogging. I have attempted to connive her into this in the past but she’s never wanted to do it. Now, however, she is facing her final year of teaching, and she doesn’t want to lose it when it’s gone. If you’d like to follow her journey to the finish line, head over to “Harley Woman Writes.”

Here’s what she had to say about these pre-student days:

Usually I think about the new beginning and what I will say to the kids — what profound eloquence will change their lives. And of course it never happens the way I imagine it, and that’s OK, too. I haven’t given any time to the consideration of life-changing opening lines.  It’s part of what already is making this year so different; it’s all in the perspective — and it’s precious. I’ll know what to say to the kids tomorrow, and this year I think I’ll listen more, too.