Two weeks of the school year down. I love teaching, but it is all-consuming and there seems to be no way for me to do it without family life suffering and risking depression and burnout. And always there is the sheer physical and emotional exhaustion. And I'm just a part-time teacher. I wonder how the full-timers manage. Please understand, I'm not complaining. It's just a fact of life. I often think of the final scene of Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Life goes on, but it rarely ends well for the teacher. I think it's no coincidence that the iconic teachers in the classical tradition have always been single, no children. (Those nuns in the Catholic schools!)
There are new challenges every year. This year, it's not having a Latin room and having to itinerate from class to class. I have to prep all my materials in advance and stage my day with the tactical foresight of Julius Caesar besieging Alesia. My classrooms are deep rather than broad, so the unforeseen consequence of that is that my handwriting on the board is not large enough for the kids in back to see. I have to practice writing big. And there are new students - one completely new to Latin in 8th grade, and others who have had it before but need to be worked in and have gaps made up. I'm sure I'll manage. I'm not so sure that all my students will love Latin and get awesome grades. I'm not even sure all my own children will love and respect me. Come to think of it, it would be kind of strange if I were sure.
There are things that are refreshingly the same every year. Sixth grade students are always very literal. Some of them are going through growth spurts, but I always find it a fun wake-up call that their minds still need to be babysat with the step-by step instructions that you would give to preschoolers, repeated frequently and with assurance that it is All Going To Be Okay. Seventh grade students are in full-on puberty and even the sharpest of them may space out from time to time; but it is encouraging that, all hormones aside, they have brains that can and should be developed. And I get to help with that. I'm not nearly as willing to do the babysitting of literal brains at this age, though. It's okay, because most of them come to realize they don't want it anymore anyway. In 8th grade, it's obvious they don't want it. They're fully in charge of their own study habits and it's a delicate balance how much I should repeat the kind of things that are necessary in 6th grade, but in 8th grade can become ad nauseam very quickly. You can see those cute little 6th graders slipping away and being replaced by young adults, not quite but almost mature. And then, faster than you'd think, they're on to 9th grade and I only see them in passing.
Quarta is a new 6th grader this year. Tragically, her pet hamster Winky died this week. Tertia is plugging away in 8th grade in her public school. It's hard not being able to be very involved with her daily routine, but I do get to be with her at the beginning and end of it. Secundus is in 11th grade, working very hard and running cross country. His pickup truck is operational now! He may start driving himself to school soon. We think he may have broken his toe back in August when he ran into a metal pipe while playing frisbee at Family Camp. It isn't moving right, but he did manage to run a marathon on it last weekend. Apparently it's not hurting too much, but I need to take him in to have it x-rayed. Daniel is loving life on the AEX hall at Grove City College. The rest of us are missing him.
Not much in the way of knitting or quilting is getting done... a bit of mending and just enough knitting not to be at a total standstill. I have been trying to trap fruit flies with vinegar traps, but the best way seems to be to leave the lid of the compost bucket ajar and then close it suddenly before taking them out. Steve is happy today; he gets to play in the garden, harvest seeds and turn over compost. I may make another batch of salsa, for the freezer this time, and some grape pie filling. The squirrels are coming out in force: our yard is a major thoroughfare for them and we have several nests high up in some of our trees. They are fun to watch.
Yesterday evening Quarta watched a particularly creepy episode of Dr. Who with us (with the Ood, a black hole, and Satan trying to break out of the pit, part 1). Tertia was whimpering in her room, as far away from the TV as possible because she thought it had something to do with mummies, which is her current biggest fear... we are not allowed to say the "m-word." So to recover, we played a round of Apples to Apples. I had a moment of brilliance when I played "pigs" to match "radiant" -- remember Charlotte's Web? Literary allusions for the win! But I didn't win. Tertia had a lengthy fit of the giggles when Steve played "underwear" to match "cute." It was pretty priceless, actually. Secundus was at a reunion party for his kindergarten class, where they played Apples to Apples, too.
And as promised, a random (short) book review:
Indiscretions of Archie by P.G. Wodehouse was written early in Wodehouse's illustrious career, and it may not be the best introduction to the master, but it's certainly a fun stand-alone tale. In it, Wodehouse honed his stock characters; irascible business tycoons, subtly underhanded butlers, and a vast array of feckless but amiable young men from all walks of life and both sides of the Atlantic. One of them is the titular Archie, who, after de-enlisting from service in WWI, wanders off from Britain to America to seek his fortune. He immediately wins the enmity of hotel magnate Daniel Brewster. Then, a few weeks later, he shows up at Brewster's hotel again, newly married to Lucille, Brewster's only daughter. The rest of the book is an episodic series of attempts to rectify matters, written as only Wodehouse could.