Thursday, April 26, 2012

Paper Grading

I’ve never been very good about separating my work life from my home life. Before my kids were in school I taught part-time at night.  Sometimes my husband and I would pass in the driveway.  Other than a disrupted dinner hour, it worked out okay.  I was home in time to tuck the kids into bed, and I did my prep work and grading either late at night or early in the morning.  After all the kids were all in school, I started teaching during the day and was eventually hired to teach full-time.  I scheduled my classes and office hours so that I could be home by the time the kids got home from school.  As any parent knows, the hours from after school until bedtime are heavy-duty parenting hours.  By the time my children went to bed, I was usually ready for bed, too.  I often fell asleep reading to one of them. Sometimes after napping for a while, I‘d get back up and grade papers into the wee morning hours.  Other times, I’d only wake up long enough to move to my own bed and set my alarm for some early morning grading.  Once during those years, on a Saturday morning, I was grading papers at the dining room table while the rest of the household was still asleep.  Before too long, I heard my youngest padding down the stairs.  I left the papers where they were and went to the kitchen to fix her some breakfast.  Hours later when I sat back down to work, I was just about to move to the next paper in the stack when something caught my eye at the bottom of the paper I’d just finished.  Under my end-of-the-paper comment to the student, in the same purple pencil I’d been using, my daughter, who was probably six or seven years old at the time, had neatly printed, “I Love You.”  Now, I do love my students, but I often wonder what that dear student would have thought if I’d returned his paper without noticing the extra comment the bottom.  These days, I don’t have to go without sleep to get my work done, at least not very often, and it turns out that’s a good thing because the older I get the harder it is to survive on less than a full-night’s sleep, let alone on the nearly-all-nighters I used to pull.  Yet I sure do miss tucking kids into bed at night and hearing sleepered feet coming down the stairs in the morning, and I especially miss finding a little “I love you” in an unexpected place in the middle of my day.

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