August 1st, and for the first time in over 30 years, I am not swimming in a whirlpool of academic related “to dos”, surrounded by a car load of new classroom decorations and school supplies, armed with new lesson plans and seating arrangements, my mental bank filled with fresh takes and renewed hopes and dreams for the small but oh so large in substance mass of tweens that will travel through my classroom door in a matter of days. I haven’t cleared a virtual desk drawer and refilled it with the gargantuan amount of patience I will need, nor have I replenished the supply of second skin required when mine gets ripped off by ignorant bureaucrats or insensitive folks that simply have no clue that we’re not just teaching math or science here, we are in fact nurturing the beings (some of whom will occasionally slip and call us “Mom”), that will be in charge of the actual life or death of humanity and our home planet. I’m no longer anticipating how I’ll encourage them to form and express their opinions or how I’ll attempt to guide them to self discovery of their unique gifts and talents (after remembering to put their names on their papers of course). It’s bizarre to have absolutely no intentions of spending every single minute from 7:30 to 2:30 modeling empathy, interdependence and cooperation while neglecting my own need to use the restroom and maintaining the extraordinary sense of humor required to stay alive until the end of May. I’m not entirely sure how my mind is going to handle not making an average of 4 educational decisions per minute every single day. What exactly will I think about if not individualizing the education plans of my 28 home room students as well as the other 80 or so I’m responsible for? How will I handle not constantly encouraging, comforting, challenging, supporting, advising, explaining, instilling, moderating, supervising, or stimulating? I look in this mirror and wonder if at my next cardiology visit my doctor will report that my heart has actually shrunk from no longer being flooded with the inexplicable unsummoned love that magically appears year after year for my new batch of kids?