I’ll admit it: teachers have it good. We may not be rich, we may not stay in the finest hotels or dine on the most haute of cuisines, but the holidays…oh, the holidays.
I’ve just come off of my summer break, and I know I am not allowed to complain since the majority of my readers are not teachers themselves, but getting back into the swing of things after fifty-odd days off takes some getting used to, some deep breathing, and a massive dose of self-discipline that largely gets lost over summers of slothful negligence and indulgence.
I concede that for most of the summer I didn’t even know what day of the week it was never mind the time of day. The watch came off, the Olympics came on, the bevy of family and friends took over the burden/pleasure of taking care of my divine children (who were spoiled rotten along with myself) and I fully gave myself to the six weeks of freedom that are the just reward for the tremendous responsibility we take on caring for your precious (and I mean that!) children.
International school teachers living in Asia, such as myself, have it better even than your average-joe teacher: we have abundant opportunities for intrepid, budget travel during our frequent vacation time (which usually includes Christmas and Easter and then all the other local holidays such as Chinese New Year, Full Moon Festival, Buddha’s birthday, you have it). During these times we often go on over night train trips, sleeping in bunk beds and slurping instant noodles for breakfast, stay in simple huts on paradisacal beaches, imbibing more than we should of concoctions that are usually laced with coconut, and let our children run around with naked abandon, half the time oblivious to our otherwise-rigid sunscreen and bedtime rules. The food is freshly caught, killed, plucked or harvested and eaten with greasy hands while our feet are sinking into soft sand with waves (and usually Bob Marley) as our background music. It is, for me, my version of heaven in a nutshell.
The summers of the international school teacher are usually reserved for “going home.” This summer, I, for one, have returned from my home and native land well-fed, content and full of positive energy. I spent a most delightful six with family and friends in Canada and the USA. During this time, I have blogged not a moment (though I have dabbled in the beginnings of a novel and provided a plethora of pithy facebook updates), eaten and drank well beyond satiation most days, and read to my heart's content. In between the eating and sleeping and reading, we managed to slip in a trip to Disneyland, went to a county fair (where the kids exclaimed, "Look, mommy: it's Disneyland!" And I spent 600 dollars for entry tickets to the Magic Kingdom WHY?), luxuriated on a lake and hung out with the beloved Midwest clan, went to farmers' markets galore and spent quality, full-on happy time with my family, whom I fell in love with all over again. (Not my kids and hubby - I've been in a tub o' love with them all along - my bro and sis and ma and pa.)
While the summer was extraordinary, I am happy to be back in a routine, to be back to a job that I love, and back to blogging. If the summers lasted forever, I think you’d just call that retirement and that is not in my foreseeable future as I am a forty-seven year old mother with a six and an eight year old! Anyway, I have a feeling I’d either spend all my money, get a nasty parasite from traveling and staying in seedy guesthouses on my paltry retirement funds, or end up volunteering my teaching services for free anyway.
So… I’m glad to be back, thankful I’ve got a job, and ready to start making a positive impact on people’s lives again, not just an impact on my waistline. My evening walk awaits…
Happy back-to-school, folks; it’s a new beginning and I always like those. (Even so, you know I am already planning my next holiday adventure. The October break is coming up and we’re off to Beijing. The tickets are booked!)