I am back at school! My second week of my second year of teaching is almost over, I can reach out and touch Labor Day weekend. It’s been really good so far. My stress level is way lower this year, since I almost know what I’m doing now! I know the kids, I know the parents, I know the staff, I know the schedule. And everything else…well I have gotten really good at making up along the way.

The kids have been fun and cute so far. Although most are unwilling to admit it, summer is long enough that they DO miss school and being productive. And their friends. When pressed, they admit they missed their teachers. And when pressed, I’ll admit I missed a lot of them, too.

When I was a kid, I always missed school over summer. I still miss school. Being IN school was way easier than teaching school is now. And I loved prepping for back to school. The new clothes ( I can still vividly picture some of my “first day of school” outfits, or the times in high school I made horrible hair-dye mistakes the day before school started), the trip to the grocery store to get really good food for bag lunches, decorating the lunchbags with my name, the purchasing of lined paper and spiral bound notebooks and new highlighters and index cards that inspired visions of straight As. The smell of new books! ah! This enthusiasm carried me through college and now I get to relive it on some level as a teacher.

I am in a “honeymoon” phase with the new sixth graders…they are sweet and precious and eager to please right now. And I’m happy to be reunited with my old favorites from last year. But even in all the good times so far, being glad to be back at work, and feeling useful with myself, I have had some moments where I remember why I was so desperately counting down the days til summer, just two and a half short months ago.

Perhaps to warn those considering joining the legions of saints (martyrs?) who call themselves junior high teachers, I have compiled a list of the diseases and ailments I have observed in my employment that infect all boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 14, between the hours of 8am-4pm. Unfortunately, despite all our advances in science, there is no known cure for the affliction of adolescence, the symptoms of which include, but are not limited to:

1. Awkwardness

2. Body Odor

3. Thinking I am whispering, but actually talking incredibly loud.

4. Lack of inner monologue.

5. World-revolves-around-me-itis

6. Inflamed Hormonies

7. Unaware of the changing proportions of my body, and therefore incredibly clumsy

8. Forgetting what I was going to say as soon as I am called on in class

9. Thinking playing dumb is cute

10. Forgetfulness

11. Texter Thumb (much like tennis elbow)

12. Oversharing. Especially about my parents.

13. Taking everything literally

14. Doodling

15. Inflammation of the attitude

16. First crush blushes/twitches/sweats

17. Third degree Disorganization

but luckily, despite being infected with any combination of these, in varying degrees, they all have an overwhelming case of

18. cuteness

19. Outbursts of hilarity

While there is no known cure (except time), all can be treated and somewhat contained with lots of love, cupcakes, grace, jokes, and hugs.

And in the end, I love my job. I lovelovelove my job.