I always advise student teachers and interns to avoid cooking projects on the day before a break from school. Then I ignore my own excellent advice. Why? Perhaps it’s sacrificial on my part: they won’t ever forget what happened to me. (No, they scattered when the kids were dismissed.) Perhaps it’s because I am too dense to remember last year’s fiasco. Whatever the reason, I end up at school long after Elvis has left the building.
Here’s an example. The Breakfast Club kids were begging for another homemade breakfast and the only “convenient” time was the day before winter break. After hours of scouring the cafeteria, I stashed all the extension cords, borrowed griddles, mixing bowls, extra cereal and pancake mix, orange juice, cooking oil, plastic gloves, and potholders in my classroom closet. Throughout the day, I squeezed into the closet to extract all the gifts I had prepared for others that week, cooking well past midnight each day. I also stashed gifts I received into that same packed closet. The closet door had to stay shut because my socially-needy gang had been sent to “relax” with me, since their teachers and classmates couldn’t relax with them in their room. So I forgot all about the closet until the kids had been sent merrily on their way. Then I started chatting with a speech therapist who is a great listener. Then I checked my email. Then I began my winter break “to do” list on the board.
By that time, the school building was eerily silent, with lingering odors of latkes and peppermint. I was more than a little horrified when I opened my closet door. All those stinking skillets and cookware were still sitting there, waiting for me. I was dimly aware that my blood sugar had plummeted. In a foggy stupor, I stared into the closet brimming with oil-soaked bags. I gazed dully at my classroom, which was cluttered beyond imagination. The lone custodian had wheeled the last bin of garbage out of the empty building. Lights were turned off. My brain was shutting down.
I jumped when my phone rang. My husband had called to see if I was ever coming home. I snapped at him. He asked if I needed help and I said I was just fine. He showed up at the outside door a few minutes later (we live close to school) and hauled the ripped bags to his car. I was in a fog as he maneuvered me to the teacher parking lot. Do you recognize this tune? “Joy to the world, my blood sugar died! My brain has turned to mush!”
I think I know why I make the same mistake year after year.