The best part of the holidays, no contest, was holding this little cutie…
…and playing with this crazy girl…
There’s nothing better in life. But when they both were ringing in the new year with coughs and fevers, and my own throat was starting to get scratchy, I knew perfectly well that I was going to be full-blown sick just in time for work to start again.
Every year I reaffirm my belief that the worst time to be a teacher is when you’re sick.
Taking sick days shouldn’t be sooooooo much work, but it just is. I spend those days envying people who can let the work pile up on their desk, and deal with it when they return. My classes have to go on, which means providing the substitute with plans for the day. And writing those plans inevitably takes twice as long as I think it will. I can almost never stick with what I was planning to do myself with the kids, because I want things taught a certain way; or the teaching builds on all this background the kids and I have but the sub doesn’t; or I was going to utilize some sort of technology that the sub wouldn’t have experience with/access to; or yadda yadda. I have to come up with something that can be done by a guest teacher, something that’s meaningful enough that the time isn’t wasted, but something that won’t make me crazy if it isn’t taught/managed the way I wanted… (If you tell me, “Just show a movie, the kids won’t mind,” I’ll smile… but that smile is covering all the hate rays my eyes are sending in your direction.)
I did manage to come up with a winning sick day scenario this time. The kids wrote New Years reflections. It was low-prep, easy for me and the sub, and I learned some really cool things about some of my kids from their writing. Always good for relationship building…
But after one weekend, one snow day, and one sick day, I was back at work. Because once I’m 85% better, it’s not worth all the extra work to stay home. And then I never get the last 15% better, because I can’t slow down. It’s great.
I don’t get much time in my life to play patient, but I never anticipated how much time I’d spend playing doctor. I didn’t go to med school. I’m not a mom. They didn’t tell me in teacher school that I’d be playing doctor for the rest of my life.
Obviously we have a health room in the office and procedures for “real” health needs. It’s the minor ailments that I have to solve. I can’t tell you how often a kid comes up to me with something like, “my head hurts,” and then looks at me expectantly. “Do you want to lie down for a little while in the health room?” They say no, but keep standing there and looking at me like I should do something. Like I’m supposed to fix it.
I can’t just share my Ibuprofen. Fortunately, I’m an amazing doctor, and I know exactly what to do. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, this is the solution…
Make a sympathetic face.
Make sure they’ve eaten somewhat recently.
Tell them to get a drink of water, and let me know later how they’re doing.
Aren’t they lucky to have my medical expertise? And my classroom’s magical drinking fountain? Got a stomachache? Drink some water. Your side hurts? Drink some water. There’s already a band-aid on your cut finger but it still hurts? Drink some water.
Actually, the last one’s no true. I have a different procedure for owies…. You know how with little kids, you can kiss it better? The same thing, basically, works with middle school kids. I say, “Do you want me to kiss it better?” And they say, “Ew!! No!” Magically, the complaining stops. All better!
Why do people spend so much time and money in medical school? Doctoring isn’t that hard. I’m a natural.
(*Disclaimer: Of course I keep an eye on the kids and take serious stuff seriously! But most of the time, after they get their drink of water, they get busy and distracted and forget they ever had a complaint.)