I'd almost become complacent; things were going pretty smoothly at school, I was planned several days in advance and the kids were doing well. I felt free to do some reading and to watch DVDs--to enjoy some leisure time on week nights for once.
Then I had three terrible days in a row with my third period class, who suddenly were in open revolt. I had new students who were either being harassed and called "gay" or who were precipitating behavior problems by other students. I was receiving contradictory signals and instructions from the Big Cheese: don't follow the pacing guide, do what you need to do to get the students reading and writing more. Follow the pacing guide and make sure the skills you are teaching align with the standardized tests. Forget the standardized tests, we have a benchmark test next week based on the pacing guide skills-catch up on those! The City is going to make deep staff cuts so you better do what we're saying to the letter or else! But don't worry about the benchmark test or the pacing guide, because the priority is the standardized test in March.
I'd been on a little high, content and confident. Friday I left school wiped out, with a packet of materials handed me at the last minute on Friday by a supervisor who knew I'd already written plans for the entire next week. "You need to re-do your entire weeks' plans and focus on these skills next week instead. Email me the new plans this weekend." I threw the packet into the recycling bin in the backseat of my car. The two-mile drive home took 45 minutes because of traffic jams on North Ave. I got home, brewed a pot of tea, and started a hot bath. I wasn't going to get glum or down in the dumps.
Just as I was getting into the tub the phone rang. It was Cha. "Dad is dropping Mom off in a couple minutes." I drained the tub, took the tea downstairs. The doorbell rang. In the back of my mind: we have a surprise party tonight, and I think we double-booked plans to have dinner with friends. D'oh. I open the door. Dad's car is full of groceries for a party Cha is having for her teacher class on Saturday at our house. I unload the groceries, I take Ma to the TV room and pour her some tea. The phone rings. It's Julio calling to ask about dinner. We're talking when my cell rings. It's Cha. She needs to me to go to her office and give her boss a jump start. "She's got to pick up her baby at day care! Can you get here ASAP?" Who doesn't have their own jumper cables in the car? God. I say "Should I bring Ma with me?" No, I should leave Ma watching TV, Cha will drive home while I drive to her work. So I'm in the car again. I get to her office quickly and jump start her boss who thanks me and rushes off. Then I sit in traffic on I-83 and on Druid Park Lake Drive for 20 minutes, even though it's only a .5 mile to my house.
By now we've already missed the surprise party deadline. Dad is 45 minutes late to pick up Mom. We decide to go to dinner with our other friends. I play Galaga with Julio while waiting for a table at the pizza restaurant. My time is not my own.