So, I return to work this week. Wednesday and Thursday we teachers report to start our year. The kids come through the doors about a week later. So, it's into the breech once more.
This will be my 15th year teaching. Not a single student on my roster has been born before I graduated high school. My first class that I taught would now be 27 or 28 years old.
I encountered a colleague who said that she enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom in the summer. I told her that I enjoyed being a stay-at-home dad for eleven of the weeks, but that it got a little old for week twelve. I stand by that comment: I take great pride in my work as a teacher, and it's somewhat tough to be away from that calling from which I take such pride. So, I'll be a little glad to go back to work with 16- and 17-year-olds next week.
But I have had the distinct privilege of being a stay-at-home dad since June 12. It's rewarding. I feel like I better know my children than I did at the summer's start. The three of us have become pretty good at anticipating one another's moves. Today I saw my daughter swim for the first time. A few weeks ago I saw my son swim the length of the pool's deep end by himself. I have taken several long trips with my kids, refereed minor spats on a daily basis, watched Star Wars with them for the first time, and have played the first strategy game with them. I've fed them daily.
It's grueling, though. And I admire the parents who make a year-round commitment to staying at home with their children. Growing up is an uneven process, filled with peaks and valleys. At times those valleys are painful or sad to watch. There is also a great deal of stamina required when one spends their whole day, day after day, with people who are waist high and who are reflections of yourself and others whom you love.
I see how my children, especially my son, are missing the way in which schooling enriches them. It makes it a bit easier to tell them it's time to head back. But it also heartens me that I do for others' children what my children's teachers do for them: challenge, inspire, and elevate them.