Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Description of the Morning

After spending all weekend at a soccer tournament (it was extravagantly sunny and everyone enjoyed being outside), it seemed like Monday morning came awfully early. And we've been running ever since. Eleanor had an event Monday night. Walker had an event Tuesday night. I'd like to ask their schools if they could think of some better reward for doing well than having to give up most of an evening to get dressed up and sit through a long and stuffy awards ceremony. At the one last night, the mayor gave a speech. Even though he promised to be brief, he indulged in an endless reverie about how Abraham Lincoln failed at things but persevered, which really didn't seem to me to fit the occasion. As someone who has specialized in teaching first-year college students for much of the past three decades, I have a pretty good idea that American students don't have to persevere to do well in school. Most of the kids who were getting awards have never had to work very hard at anything.

So morning came very early again today. Going back to school seems like an anti-climax to the kids, and making up an exam for tomorrow seems like something I can put off until the afternoon. I feel like one of the characters in Jonathan Swift's poem "Description of the Morning":

Now hardly here and there a hackney-coach
Appearing, showed the ruddy morn's approach.
Now Betty from her master's bed had flown,
And softly stole to discompose her own;
The slip-shod 'prentice from his master's door
Had pared the dirt and sprinkled round the floor.
Now Moll had whirled her mop with dext'rous airs,
Prepared to scrub the entry and the stairs.
The youth with broomy stumps began to trace
The kennel-edge, where wheels had worn the place.
The small-coal man was heard with cadence deep,
Till drowned in shriller notes of chimney-sweep:
Duns at his lordship's gate began to meet;
And brickdust Moll had screamed through half the street.
The turnkey now his flock returning sees,
Duly let out a-nights to steal for fees:
The watchful bailiffs take their silent stands,
And schoolboys lag with satchels in their hands.

I always think of the "Who Will Buy?" scene from the musical Oliver! when the description of all the voices begins with the coal man. Yep, instead of birdsong, it's the kind of morning that begins with a sales pitch. Rather than a fresh, new start, the morning seems like more of the same. We have had enough of the school year. Have you?


FreshHell said...


PAJ said...

Yes! But it's pile-on time, it seems. The teachers are pouring on homework and assignments, and end-of-the-year activities also take up time. Of course, my daughter still finds time for the important stuff--texting her friends and attending parties.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes.
But N came home and said she wished she was still there.

Harriet said...

Yes, although I'm a little worried about what we'll be doing for the summer.

Jeanne said...

Aw, Readersguide, all college students do that.

Harriet, you and I are having some of the same trouble with switching gears. A little warmer weather and fewer scheduled events usually gets me in a sunny summer mood. I love summer! It's my favorite season.

Jeanne said...

FreshHell, well alrighty then!

PAJ, as our kids get older, the piles get deeper, don't they? I just finished going through Eleanor's finals schedule with her, because she's only required to take a couple of them this year (due to passing the Ohio Graduation Test--already, as a sophomore). So today was her last full day of school.