It’s Memorial Day weekend, so all over the country people are stocking up on food for the grill – though here in St. Louis its been hopelessly rainy all spring and any plans for a barbecue are an act of sheer optimism. In any case, a three day weekend is always cause to celebrate, especially when that three day weekend is actually more like a seventy-nine day weekend.
79 day weekend? Yes, this might be perplexing, but what I refer to is a rough approximation of my summer break. I report back to work at the school where I teach on something like August 11th (I was a bit too lazy to actually look it up before writing this post – it is summer break after all), so that means my holiday weekend which began Friday at about 12:30, really lasts for about 79 days. I know, I know – it’s a hard life.
I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest the long summer break is why one should become a teacher, but I will say that the rhythm of the school year was always one that I enjoyed as a student, and as I’ve been either a student or a teacher my whole life, at least for as much of it as I can remember, it is hard for me to envision living any other way.
I was one of those weird kids who really enjoyed school. Now, to be sure, when I got old enough to catch the social cues that it wasn’t cool to admit to this, I probably grumbled as much as the next kid about it. And, there were certainly subjects and teachers that I didn’t enjoy as much. Even so, reading and learning have always been things that really excited me, so the start of the new year was always welcome, especially when you added the social factor of catching up with friends you hadn’t seen all summer.
Liking school, though, didn’t stop me from embracing summer with open arms. The warm weather, the time to sleep more and read more freely things I’d choose to read, not to mention to play outside or conquer a new video game – I enjoyed all those things. Plus, as I got older, church youth group activities always kicked into high gear, and trips to camp, to the beach, to amusement parks and the like were always a big draw. So summer, even for a kid who liked school, was a welcome change of pace.
Even so, the American summer break is pretty long, so when fall rolled around, gearing up for school wasn’t all bad, despite all protests to the contrary. And as I’ve already expressed my enjoyment of the school year, I won’t repeat myself here. The point is that the cycle was an enjoyable one, and I quite liked the way the year progressed and just as I was growing weary of school, summer came, and just as I was growing weary of summer, school would come.
Now every year hasn’t worked so well. Sometimes I’m ready for summer earlier than other years, and sometimes I’m not quite ready for school and it is upon me whether I like it or not. But, all in all, I have to say the thought of trading in the school-oriented-life for a standard American work year with only 2 weeks vacation & holidays feels pretty bleak. I’m not sure how others do it. Of course, there is financial incentive to do so, as many business jobs pay better than teaching, but I like not only the schedule of what I do but the actual work that I do, so I don’t envy the higher paid business folks at all. I’ll keep my teaching gig, thanks.
Add to that the writing, and I feel pretty lucky. To tell the truth, I haven’t done much writing in the summers before. All 5 books of BOTB were written more or less during the school year, and the unpublished mystery novel I wrote was during the ’06-’07 school year. However, due to a number of factors, I didn’t write a book this past school year, but I plan to work seriously on one (or two, actually), this summer. I plan to dive back into both projects tomorrow morning, and I’m really excited to do so.
So, even though I have a 79 day weekend, don’t think I’ll be slacking off. While the rest of you are sleeping in on Memorial Day tomorrow, I plan to be up and at ’em about six, so I can get a good four hours in by 10:00 am.
Enjoy your holiday.