Friday, November 12, 2010

A Week in the Life: Friday

Ahh...Friday morning. Almost the best morning of the week (second only to a Saturday morning I get to sleep in). Usually, getting the kids up, fed, dressed, and out the door by 7:45 can be a bit stressful, as Thing One is slower than molasses in January, but Fridays we can afford to run late because I don't teach (I have a 9:00 am class MTWTh). Usually, we get on the road and I don't sweat getting stuck behind a semi doing the speed limit (55 mph on a two-lane country highway). I just put on some good tunes, and we dawdle our way into town. I drop both of them off, and head to Starbucks to begin working my way through the latest batch of papers/exams/journals. After a few hours of that, I'm usually tweaking pretty hard, so I do my errands: at Target, picking up diapers and whatnot (though the whatnot usually ends up costing $100, even when I'm trying NOT to spend $$). That usually takes about an hour. Then I head over to campus to prep for the coming week, getting my calendar written out (yes, written--it helps me remember what I'm supposed to be doing) and making any copies I might need so that I'm not stuck trying to do it 5 minutes prior to class--when everyone else is trying to get it done. Then I do my PD work--work on a new poem, search the UPenn CFP list (if I don't book time to do it, I forget to do it--and then I miss deadlines for conferences, which I can't afford to do if I want to get tenure this year). At 2:50 pm, I head over to Thing One's elementary school to pick her up myself; we then drive over to pick up her brother and head back home. Friday's the only day I leave "early"--we're usually home by 4:00. 

Well, today just wasn't one of those neatly-planned, well-executed non-instructional days.

Instead, we got up this morning only to have Thing One tell me that her head felt hot. Yep, sure enough, she had a temp of 100.4. An hour later, still over 100. 

Thing Two was extra crabby right off the bat--crying for me from his crib, which he almost never does anymore. Extra clingy. Not hungry. Great. 

I made an executive decision, and we stayed home. They're both fighting something off, and while neither of them was that sick, my feeling is that they could conserve their energy today and be ready to go back on Monday. If I'd had to teach today, my decision would have been different. I'd have probably kept Thing One with me on campus, and sent Thing Two to daycare. Thankfully I didn't have to that today--courtesy of the wonders of email. I'm very grateful for the flexibility this job affords me.

Today is the first day in over two weeks that I haven't graded some piece of student writing. It's the first day I've had "off" since...sometime in October? I can't remember. I promised Hubby that I wouldn't work both days on the weekend because we need some time to spend together as a family (and he needs--and should get--time to spend in his workshop). I'm having trouble holding to that. 

The problem is that there aren't enough hours in a work week for me to get my work done, even though I work 8:30-4:00pm straight through (I would stay until 5:00, but as it is Thing Two can barely make it to 4:15--he's ready for bed by 6:00pm most nights). I am a writing teacher; grading student writing is incredibly time-consuming. It's rewarding, too--especially at the end of the semester when I get to see how far each has come since the beginning--but it takes a long time to read, process, comment, and correct papers. I simply do not have the energy in the evenings to give the work the attention it deserves. Evenings are when I read to prepare for class the next day, so that the material is fresh for me. For grading, the only solution is to have big blocks of time on the weekends: 5 hours each day. And it's still not enough to get through the volume I collect every other week.

That's how I spent last weekend--both Saturday and Sunday, because I had to grade and give back 43 (ENG 102) and 24 ENG 101 papers this week. I'd already had the ENG 102 papers for more than a week because the previous Friday (10/29) I'd been at an all-day department conference and Saturday we had to go down to the in-laws to get the kids and help with insulating the attic; then we went trick-or-treating. I'd then had to spend that entire Sunday in my hobbit-hole in the basement, grading.

If it sounds like I'm complaining, please don't misunderstand: I love my job. Of all the jobs I've had in my life (some of which have paid better), this is by far the one I love the most. I get to make a difference in the lives of the students who take my classes, and there's nothing that can compare with that. Except maybe being the host of my own basic cable comedy news show.

So the upshot is that today was basically a wash as far as work goes, though I did check email and respond to a few questions from students about the research paper. I didn't get any grading done because I spent the day looking after my two kids: we watched PBS Kids all morning, had lunch, went to the bank and Walgreen's, came home and watched Cars for the umpteenth time. I got to snuggle Thing Two a lot ("Uggle, Mama--uggle!") and I spent about an hour coloring at the kitchen table with Thing One.

It was a good day.

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