I just woke up from the kind of dream I usually have in late August. One where I’m responsible for a large cohort of students. Or maybe one really challenging student. We are running. Or we are being held captive. Or worst of all, we are expected to perform a very complicated dance sequence. Publicly. Always, I am responsible. Always. And always something very unfortunate is happening. Or will happen. And will become much more unfortunate if I do not use all the gifts I have been given to save them. Luckily, in these dreams I never realize that the only gift I truly have to offer is a very strong sense of spelling. If “i before e except after c or in the case where it sounds like a as in neighbor or weigh” is all I have to lob at the bad guys, we will all end up in slavery/Hannibal Lechter’s birthday menu/the worst musical ever produced. In these dreams where I must save my students, I am quite confident and given to a level of bravado that doesn’t exist in the world when my feet touch the ground. Which is good, because I have to save students. In case I didn’t mention that already.
And I understand why I have these dreams as a new school year is approaching. I know why I feel so shaky, so vulnerable about starting this whole enterprise up again. I worry about connecting with the students. I fret over my level of preparation. The unknown elements of the new year weigh heavily on me in ways I am unable to process effectively enough during my waking hours so it spills over into dreamland. I also understand why these dreams persist through the school year to some degree. I don’t always understand the casting. My willful suspense of disbelief was once sorely strained when Donald Rumsfeld played not one of the bad guys but my love interest. To reiterate, sometimes these dreams are terrifying beyond comprehension.
What I’m struggling with is the timing of last night’s ugly and extremely vivid dream involving breaking a group of students out of a booby-trapped building. In the waking world, I am almost into countdown mode. This is the last month of school for the 2013-2014 school year. My battery pack is running low. Very freaking low. Of course I want to break out of the school, but I don’t want the kids with me when I go. Why are they clinging onto my psyche like this? Is it because I haven’t done enough for them? Are they unprepared to move on due to my ineptitude? Have I missed something major? Like a set of lockers rigged to blow when the blond kid twirls him combination outside my door? Does that signify the group of kids who still can’t write a topic sentence without extreme prompting maneuvers? And why did the classroom, especially my desk, look so perfect? It was unsettling the way the piles had disappeared. As if I had been replaced by a better version of myself.
I have no answers to these questions, I can only hope that tonight’s slumber will be an easier one. If not, I’d like to place an order for my peril to come with a side of Colin Firth or George Clooney playing the love interest this time. Much more palatable-if not plausible.