Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

The End is Near

I have a bad habit.

Well, I probably have more than just the one, but that one is what I’ll focus on this evening.

Brief background: I’m a school teacher, and as such, I have been on summer break since the last week of June.

At the beginning of most summers, I figure out how many weeks of summer vacation I will have – usually nine. Then I take those nine weeks and make my math teachers very proud of me: I divide them up into three sections of three weeks each. I do this so that I will know whether I’m in the first, second or third segment of the summer.

Why do I do this? Probably so that during the first third of summer, I can think, “ha! All that time left to go.” And in the second third, I can think, “still quite a nice amount of time to go.” And in the last third, I can think, “… drat. Summer’s over.”

Which is not to imply that I don’t enjoy teaching. It’s an occupation that I’m both proud and pleased to say is mine. Plenty of people out there who aren’t teachers look at the eight- or nine-week break that we have, during the summer, and wonder if it’s really necessary (or think we’re slacking off, or some such) … about all I can say to that is, if you’ve been any kind of a teacher who remotely cares whether you’re doing a decent job at it, you desperately need those summer months to recover and recharge, so as to be ready to be appropriately caring about it when it all starts up again. The best teachers I ever had, who clearly couldn’t wait to get into that classroom and get after the business of educating the little ones, or the mid-size ones, or the grad students … still had that look in their eyes as summer approached. The look that said, yeah, I’ll still enjoy sitting on my backside and assessing the clouds as they roll by!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes! I was psychoanalyzing …

Many moons ago, I compared notes with my dear mother, and we both realized that very often, on the Fourth of July, we each have had the brief thought: “wow, the summer’s flying by.” When, according to the calendar, the summer is usually only two-sevenths complete. According to my previous metric, at least. Who in the hell [Hey. We’re keeping your diploma, guy. -Ed.] sits watching fireworks and listening to the “1812 Overture” and gets all melancholy?

Me, at least until recently.

My particular summer features a couple of events that fall in just the right moment to help delineate the summer. The band director workshop in New Hampshire which I’ve attended for the last eight summers tends to be held at the end of the third week of my summer. So, in hockey terms, that’s the first intermission. OK. Still lots of hockey to be played. And the nine days of Drum Major Academy clinics that I get to be part of usually are complete at, same analogy, the second intermission. So at the very least, my summer doesn’t slip away totally – there are signposts that remind me, okay, you are here.

But I hit each of those signposts with a slight but real sense of sadness.

Of course, there’s usually some preparation that needs to be done between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next. Regardless of how much … usually I get to within about two weeks of the oncoming school year, realize that I’ve done squat, or close to it … and I hit that signpost with a sense of disappointment. I had all that time to accomplish things, and I didn’t. Behold! I am the King of Procrastination! So, my last two summer weeks are generally full of scrambling to plan and fruitless moping about the house wishing there were more time left.

There’s something wrong with me, I think.

Fella! – You’re on summer break. It’s lengthy. Not many people in the American workforce get one of these. So quit ‘cher moping, and jump on a bike, or grab your golf bag, or throw on some sunblock. Frittering away the summer is what summer is for.

Easy to say. Harder to do, at least for me, at least sometimes. (Heck, there used to be a time when, about 24 hours into an average weekend, it would be Saturday evening and I’d think, “the weekend’s just about over now.” Well–! … I’m a church musician. I work Sundays. But how sad a statement is that to make, at six o’clock on a Saturday?)

I’m working on it. I have until next June to figure out how best to work on it again. Meantime, I’ve set my golf clubs by the door for tomorrow morning.


August 21, 2012 - Posted by | teachers | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Right there with you, Rob! June comes and I am generally happy, satisfied, but a bit beat up and tired. Once summer is over I really can’t wait until school begins (for me, tomorrow!); I am stoked and may have difficulty sleeping tonight.

    I caught that reference to the girl in Oklahoma, by the way – I really think that principal is presuming authority that doesn’t legally exist.

    Comment by Craig | August 21, 2012 | Reply

  2. As I read this on my last day in Europe, I can totally relate. :-/

    Comment by amandaroederwrites | August 22, 2012 | Reply

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