I was at a picnic last Saturday night, and the person across from me was making polite conversation by asking a question about my summer plans.
I'm sure he was not implying that I have nothing to do for the next nine weeks.
No, his question was not phrased in the sense that I'm a teacher, therefore, in the summer, I'm a bum.
Oh, wait. Give me time to hide my summer bumper sticker: "Don't hate me because I'm a teacher."
Hmmmm .... on Saturday I was just glad I didn't have to leave the picnic right after dinner in order to grade essays in the van.
Actually, as I was leaving home for the picnic, I started to take my school bag. Then I remembered that I didn't have any papers to grade. From the end of August to the beginning of June, I grade papers — on nights, weekends, early mornings — wherever we go.
Not that I'm complaining. I love my job. It is wonderful to be surrounded by young people all day long, to experience their energy and to see them realize their dreams.
I want them to be the best that they can be, so I need to be on top of my game.
Because I teach high school English, this summer I will spend a lot of time writing and reading. I might not get to all the "fun" books that I want to read, but that's OK. I need to do my homework so that, come fall, I can help my students with theirs.
My goal is to read several novels on Advanced Placement Literature lists. I don't think I'll be taking one of those novels on our week vacation at the beach. They aren't exactly beach reading, but I'll take some "fun" books along then so I can have a brain break.
In the meantime, I will be gathering information for several magazine articles that I've lined up for this summer. I can't expect my students to write on the college level if I'm not doing the same, can I?
These assignments will help to supplement our income, too. As a private school teacher, my salary is below the average income for our county. (Isn't that another reason not to hate me? Your tax dollars don't pay my salary. You probably make more than I do, and I don't begrudge you one penny of what you earn.)
There are lots of perks to my job, though. Because my kids go to the school where I teach, we go to school and come home together. We have the same days off. No amount of money could replace the time I've spent with them.
We'll be spending lots of time together this summer, too. They have camps, summer league ball games, music lessons and other activities that will require my taxicab services. I'll spend a lot of time carting them around.
Basically, I'm just a parent with a master's degree who loves to learn and enjoys helping others learn.
I have to admit that sometimes in the summer I pretend I'm a stay-at-home-mom. I guess this is due to the grass-is-always-greener syndrome.
I rather like the bumper sticker I saw the other day: "Every mother is a working mother."
Even if she's a teacher.
Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at email@example.com.