First contract day of work, convocation, the most beloved event by all. This is when the first part of the morning is spent by the administration waking us up from the summer daze, cheering us on that the new school year has started and how we teachers can do absolutely everything. The next part of the morning is spent by listening union reps telling us not to work too hard and not to do things that are not on our contract and not to hesitate to contact them if the principal asks to hold the door for her when you are on your way out of the building. It is on this day that I had an encounter with a whale.
I woke up at 5am that morning and could not fall back asleep. I was having convocation jitters, I think. Guilt is also most overwhelming during the first days back from being home with kids for a prolonged amount of time. And I was feeling just that. Guilt. I get so used to being home and having a certain routine that I almost forget what it is that I do for a living. Anyway, I pulled up to the parking lot a few minutes early and the only free parking spots empty were marked "reserved". Because the entire district staff meets at this school, it is often assumed that these signs can be ignored. As I pulled up to park, a person in the newly parked car rolls down his windows and says
" Did I take your parking spot?"
"No, I thought I just took someone's spot", I answered.
Just then I recognized that I was speaking to the superintendent of our district.
"How about we just park here for now", he said with a smile.
I felt like saying "Whatever you say, your majesty", but refrained.
As we were walking to school we exchanged some small talk. He asked me about my home school and what I do there. The conversation (naturally) then led to me being a mom of three and staying home with them when I am not at work. He told me about his three children as well. When that wrapped up, I felt the need to say something clever but nothing clever came out. Just then, I felt smaller than a sardine walking next to him and I realized that I have absolutely nothing to say to a whale.
Perhaps I could have asked him how it was to balance a budget that was several million dollars in red. Or how he felt about cutting so many teaching positions. Or I could have asked him if he enjoys his $200K salary alright. Or I could have asked him whether or not he likes education after being in it for 33 years. At least I would appear well read and intact with the district news. Right.
Instead, some nonsense came out and the conversation ended with him telling me to enjoy my children because they grow up way too fast. I thought about that and about how I am just not that great at coming up with clever answers at the spur of the moment and how by the time I process things it is too late to say it.
I am sure he forgot my name the very second I gave it to him, but I'll probably remember this early morning for a long time.