Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Early Mornings and Furloughs

The mornings come early. They always do, for after our gardening dreams, what better time is there than those first predawn moments standing outside with a cup of smooth coffee, surveying your garden from afar, with the moist air enveloping your skin and the damp earth caressing your nose. These are your minutes before the shower, the television or the screaming children assault your senses and manhandle you into the day. These are your few cherished moments to prove to yourself that you are alive, that this is your life, and you are content.

For ten months out of the year, mornings do come early at the Ribbit household. The alarm goes off at 5:00 AM, and the mad dash out of the house begins. Rarely is there time for those moments of solitude and reflection during the school year as there is over the summer, for it's still midnight dark when we leave the house. During the school year, the children's internal alarm clock runs on full tilt. Neither holidays nor weekends are sacred. 5:00 AM is morning, and morning for everyone it is. During summer vacation, however, the children are lulled into complacency and their natural sleep rhythms allow them to slowly extend their sleep, and I get my five minutes of surveying the garden-predawn bliss.

As luck would have it, just when the kids get used to the new pattern, it's time to go back to school.

Or is it?

I've been furloughed for the first two days of preplanning and then another day later in the school year. PLEASE note I'm not complaining about the pay loss. There are worse things in this world and my situation could be much more dire. We're one of two families in my neighborhood that has both spouses holding steady jobs, and the man had to let one of his employees go last Friday. Things could be much worse and that I'm not debating. So I loose three days of pay. It's not a big deal in the long run at all, but it does make me stop and think. I used to say that there were a few industries that would always be safe from the largest hits of any recession: people will always get sick, need food, and have children who need educating.

Yes, the last is a fact, but the government that relies on a lot of that tax revenue then get hit hard themselves. It's unavoidable.

Again, cut my salary if you have to. I don't teach for the pay, I teach because I have to. I'm not a whole person unless I'm in front of a classroom. You have to HAVE to do teach, or you can't and fail. The majority of us are like that. So you furloughed us for the first two days of the school year. You know we'll be bitter and fussy, but you also know we'll be there anyway because we teach, and we'll be D*&^ed if we're going to stand in front of our students on the first day not having our acts together. Those kids don't know 'recession' from a hole in the wall and they're not going to suffer because of it.

I may not have Kraft cheese on my sandwich next month (note tongue in cheek tone), but I'll be holding that Styrofoam cup of industrial strength, institutional coffee and surveying my students' progress as religiously as my garden's. I'm going to have my act together, and I will be content that first day. I will be content, and I'm not smiling until Christmas. :)

Rant over.
The end.


  1. I'm sorry the school is in that situation but you have a wonderful attitude. Especially if everybody missing a couple days of pay means somebody can keep their job it's worth it but's ok to grumble a little too :-)

  2. Thanks, Greenbean (I still can't get used to calling you Amy..HA!), but here's the rub:
    This past year, my school system has spent no less than 15 million dollars on athletic facilities (I looked it up). They're furloughing us to save 9 million.

    Other counties in GA are stopping payments to retirement funds instead of furloughing which scares me more. The neighboring county, however, is taking the entire week off for Thanksgiving and keeping the kids an extra 15 minutes a day for two months to make up for the instructional time. That makes sense.

    We're not allowed to unionize in GA, but the professional organizations are urging us to stay home. However, I REFUSE to look into a parent's face and say, "I don't know."

  3. Ribbit, the world needs more people like you.

  4. THank you, Granny, but I don't think the world could work with us all on our backs in Wal-Mart parking lots. :)

  5. That, and I"ve just sat here for 25 minutes squinting at the screen. WHen I finally complained to the man, he said it was no wonder because one of my contacts was at the bottom of the sink.