Although I am not required to be there, two days ago I returned to my fifth grade classroom. Teachers don't start getting paid until next week, but I want to go in to get ready for the new school year. I want to move all the furniture back to the correct spot, get all the supplies ready, make lesson plans, get all the lesson materials ready, hang welcoming stuff on the wall, arrange desks and seating, do required paperwork, and visit and chat with the other teachers who are so gung-ho that they go in a week early.
Also, you start seeing kids. There are neighborhood kids who ride their bikes or walk to the school grounds and then stroll through the halls saying hello to the teachers. These are the gung-ho kids, and who they are is always a surprise. They aren't usually the little geniuses with the high grades. It can be troubled kids who find school an escape from the unhappiness at home. Bored kids. Bike riding kids who find themselves at school. Kids whose parents have some business at the school and had to go along. In any case, it's fun to piddle away time yakking with kids about their summer.
The hardest part of returning to school is hearing, "How was your summer?" four hundred times and coming up with a nice bit o' patter. I don't want to say, "I vegged out in front of the tv, gained weight, went to two funerals, procrastinated on a lot of chores, developed a couple of warts and one of them bled on my new shirt, went to visit a couple of ill friends in the hospital, and I've been dreading coming back to work." I prefer, "I read several good books, rode in a restored Studebaker Avanti, had a great visit with my niece who visited me from Florida and brought her family, flew to Houston for my mother's ninetieth birthday, and I am glad to be back at school and see The Little Nippers again. How was your summer?"
By the way, how was your summer?