Summers Free

“Summers Off”

It’s late on a Sunday night. We learn that Logan needs new boots for camp tomorrow so off to WalMart we go. It’s not our first or best choice, but at this point in time in was pretty much our only option. It was a busy weekend and he gets to be home from camp for exactly 24 hours each weekend before he has to go back.

Its 9;00pm and it’s the second week of July. Some schools just got out June 30th, and Walmart had aisles filled with Back to School items. What’s the rush Walmart? Settle down there partner, I’m still catching my breath from this last sprint to the finish line. We got his boots and left the discount notebooks for August. I’m not ready to rush to shop for school yet, Walmart. Sorry. I’m allowed to have some summer left.

I’m not complaining. I know having the freedom of a summer is a gift. I just wish I wasn’t judged so harshly by society for the structure of my chosen profession.

Indulge me for a second, but I need to craft a metaphor here. Imagine teachers are like powerlifters. We need to take breaks or we’re going to do more harm than good. It’s challenging, hard work, and it’s not for everyone. Anyone who goes to a gym or works out knows this and gets it, but apply it to real life and the tables get turned.

“Oh it must be nice having the summers free.” Dude, it’s not just nice, it’s necessary. We’re exhausted. Our physical and mental muscles are pushed to the breaking point and the extra judgement doesn’t help.

Do you push a pneumonia patient out of bed? No, you let them rest. Just finished running the Scranton Half Marathon? Get yourself some pasta and a nap! Finish up your 19th year teaching? Must be nice. It might be one of the most frustrating double standards we face.

Because I may not have to drive to work, but all of the things I couldn’t do between September-June have to get accomplished in two months. We need to overhaul a bedroom, repair pipes, install a new roof, replace the fridge, write curriculum, reclaim the yard, make doctors appointments and more.

I feel like I’m complaining and that I have no right to do so but dammit, it’s how I feel. I know my summer freedom is precious and I don’t take it for granted. I squeeze every drop of time out of summer like the juice of a lemon into my tea.

The next time you talk to a teacher and go to comment about having summers free, please think twice. We know. No freedom is ever really free. We’ve paid for it, here’s our receipt. Go ahead, rest easy, and have a good one.

Karen Padden

Karen, Queen of the Paddens and first of her name. Teacher, Baker, Petter of Cats, Multiple Sneezer and Crocheter of Wubbies. Believes in kindness, always.

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